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Update from the President: November 3, 2016

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Update from the President

November 3, 2016

I hope everyone experienced an outstanding Feast of Tabernacles! We had a wonderful spiritual festival in Hawaii, which we spent with our son and daughter-in-law and their four children.

We are returning to our regular work here at the home office and compiling reports about the Feast that we will be sharing with you. The next United News with most all the Festival reports will be going to press shortly.

Today we are recording two more Beyond Today television programs by Darris McNeely and Steve Myers.

The Pastoral Development Program is to begin Monday and will continue through the following Wednesday. Twelve men and their wives will be here for intensive training. Earlier this week we finalized the agenda and classes and look forward to spending a great deal of time with the new men who will shepherd God’s people. In addition to those from the United States, we also have attendees from Canada, South Africa and Zambia.

Now would be a good time to pray for this country

While campaigning in Iowa a few weeks before the November election, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence made this remarkable comment: “I would encourage you, if you are inclined to do as the Pence family does from time to time, to bow the head and bend the knee. It’d be a good time to pray for this country.”

Should we in the church be doing this? The Bible does have specific statements about our roles and duties with regard to the governments of this world. They are simple and straightforward and, perhaps to some, a little surprising.

The first comes from the apostle Peter: “For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he appointed…Fear God and respect the King” (1 Peter 3:13 1 Peter 3:13And who is he that will harm you, if you be followers of that which is good?
American King James Version×
, 15, New Living Translation, emphasis added throughout). Paul echoes this in Romans, where he writes originally to people living in the capital of the empire: “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13:1 Romans 13:1Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

Of course, there are also specific commands that when the laws of men defy the laws of God, we always obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29 Acts 5:29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
American King James Version×
).

When both Peter and Paul wrote those statements about authority, the Roman Emperor Nero was in power. A short time after these biblical statements were made, Nero began torturing some Christians. According to the Roman senator and historian Tacitus (Tacitus, Annals 15:44-45), Nero falsely accused these Roman Christians of setting the city of Rome itself ablaze and subsequently (and horribly) setting some Christians on fire as living human candles, using them to “light his nighttime circus games” (Ben Witherington, New Testament History, page 338).

Can you imagine what the early Christians thought when they heard or read those words of civil obedience from Peter and Paul in that era? That was obviously a very hard command. Considering our various presidents and prime ministers, that may also be hard today.

Do we honor our human leaders? Or do we tear them down?

Properly respecting authority upholds the positive rule of law in this human world, helping to prevent the world from sliding into barbarous anarchy. That is why Abraham Lincoln called for “reverence for the laws,” even to the point that in the United States he said it would become “the political religion of the nation.” In the chaos of anarchy, there is great suffering.

The second principle of a Christian’s positive engagement with human government is an unpopular one, but nonetheless true: pay your taxes. If you live in a country where you can civilly remonstrate against oppressive taxation, you are free to appropriately exercise your rights of citizenship as Paul did. However, Jesus Himself commands us: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21 Matthew 22:21They say to him, Caesar’s. Then said he to them, Render therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.
American King James Version×
). Paul makes it even more clear: “Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority” (Romans 13:7 Romans 13:7Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

A third principle of a Christian’s engagement with human government is that we are commanded to be a light to this world (Matthew 5:14 Matthew 5:14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
American King James Version×
). You can’t be a light if you are hidden under a basket, out of sight to the world. Jesus Himself said that people are supposed to be able to see our good works, as they glorify God! We often (and appropriately) teach that we are not to be of this world, but do we also appropriately teach what Jesus said in His open prayer to God about us? “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world…As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them INTO the world” (John 17:15 John 17:15I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil.
American King James Version×
, 18). Note what Peter continued when he taught about our role: “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15 1 Peter 2:15For so is the will of God, that with well doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
American King James Version×
). We are to live as servants of God, wherever we are, and we should living in such a manner that people ask us about the hope that is within us! (1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 3:15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
American King James Version×
).

Regarding human leaders, the Bible shows how many kings and human leaders conducted themselves badly. Such behavior is not new, and it will certainly happen again. The Bible also records that some rose to prominent positions of public service in human governments, like Joseph and Daniel. They stand today like spiritual beacons!

Consider some key elements of what God commanded the Jews in the famous “70 years” prophecy when they were taken captive to Babylon. They apply to us today. As the prophet Jeremiah recorded in a formal letter: “Thus says the Lord of Hosts…seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord about it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7 Jeremiah 29:7And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray to the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall you have peace.
American King James Version×
).

Are we truly yielding ourselves to becoming lights to this world? Are we praying for and appropriately respecting our leaders? Are we seeking peace and pursuing it, especially among our people?

What Governor Pence suggested back in October is not bad advice at all. Now would be a good time to pray for our country. May God’s will be done!

Comments

 
  • Ennaycart

    But what do we pray? I always stumble with what exactly is an effective and respectable prayer when addressing to God my concerns for the governments of this world and society in general. Any suggestions?

  • Skip Miller

    Hello Tracy,
    The very last sentence from Mr. Kubik is what I always start and end my prayers with:
    “Father, You know best! Work Your will!” And then I slip in anything else that is on my mind. This may seem to be a lazy approach but I honestly do not think so. God (both Father and Son) are so much better at knowing what needs to be done in all of our lives. Trust Them.

  • Ennaycart

    That helps a lot Mr. Miller. Thank you very much for your time and response.

  • Craig Scott

    1Timothy 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, on behalf of kings and all those who are in authority, that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. For this is good and acceptable before God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth.

    I interpret this instruction from Paul to mean prayer for an outcome that furthers/enables/helps the work of church… to effectively tell people about God’s plans for the future, and to teach others how to follow Him and how to take hold of the gift of eternal life He is offering.

  • Don Hooser

    Mr. Kubik, this is an excellent summary of our responsibilities toward and opportunities to serve our country! In only a little space, you covered the most important biblical principles very cogently. I hope countless people will take to heart what you wrote. And may God help us to stay close to Him through the trying times ahead of us!