What a noble concept! It is far too easy to point to those times and circumstances when the concept was left laying in the dust because of the failure of people to really be submissive to God and his lead in life. Like every other nation that has ever existed, the United States of America has tons of flaws. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to several other countries through the years and seeing what other nations have to offer in comparison to what we have seen in this nation. I’ve not had the privilege yet of seeing that perfect nation or government. Think of the fact that the one Nation set up by God Himself is the nation of Israel. Yet, if you look back over the history of Israel, it is far from a perfect nation. Like other countries it has had leaders that were corrupt. People have been put down, mistreated and abused because they weren’t of the chosen people. Their wickedness led to God allowing enemies to come in and utterly destroy their cities, their capitol, the temple and tear down the walls around the city of Jerusalem. If a nation established by God and given the rules to live by, directly from God, can’t keep things perfect and always heading in the right direction, why on earth would we expect to be able to develop a country without flaws on our own.
Oh, I know there are those who believe that the United States is the new Israel that is chosen today by God, but there is certainly noting in the Bible that would ever give such a notion. Here is what is true. God did set up civil governments of all sorts. In Romans 13:1-5 we have one of the greatest teachings with regard to government ever written. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong by afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”
Notice some extremely important points in what God had Paul to write in these verses. First, it was written during the time when Rome ruled the world with an iron hand and the particular ruler on the throne at the time Paul wrote this was a man named Nero, who was one of the worst, most ungodly leaders Rome ever had. Yet, God’s teaching wasn’t for the Christians to start a march or riot against the government, even when it was killing people because of their faith in Jesus.
Notice that God declared that He was the one who established governments. He set them up for a purpose. They were to be there to bless those who did the right thing and to punish those who did evil in the world. Has government ever strayed from the God given purpose? Certainly, they have and were doing so at the very time Paul wrote these words. Yet in the midst of such evil when Roman rulers were actually setting themselves up as gods to be worshiped, God still had Paul to write for us to submit to the ruling authorities. Notice he said when we rebel against the authorities, we are rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
But, what are we to do when government isn’t doing what we believe is right? How are we to stand against what we consider evil and still be obedient to what God tells us to do as citizens of His kingdom? First, we are to live right, holy and godly lives in the world so that our lights shine for the good and may serve to lead others to God. Does that mean we will always be treated right? Absolutely not! Paul, who wrote these words was later beheaded by Nero whom he told people to submit too. He did continue all the way to the end to be the man God called him to be and refused to seek revenge against those who were doing wrong.
Second, we are blessed in this country to have the right to vote for the candidates we believe best fulfill the role of leader that will lead the country in the best way. So, we should go and vote what we believe is the right thing. But, what if I vote one way and the other candidate or party wins? Be a Christian and pray for that new leader every day that God will lead them to make the right moves and be a blessing to the country. Be the godly citizen all the time. Speak up for godliness, for truth and right. But demonstrate the heart that will reach across the aisle to help the ones you disagree with. If our party affiliation stands stronger in our minds than our loyalty as a citizen of the nation and our devotion to God then we are in trouble and need to repent.
Third, I can be the citizen that will make this nation stronger and more godly all the time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we actually met the dream of being “One nation, under God?”
I know nations rise and fall and I certainly don’t know how long this nation will stand. I also know that whatever happens to the nation, the kingdom of God will still stand and Jesus will still be the king over his kingdom, the head over his church, and the high priest over his people. If the nation stands, we can live for God every day in it in such a way as to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. If it falls we can live for God every day as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. I hope and pray that our nation stands as one nation under God. But my loyalty is to the citizenship I have in heaven, not the one I have on this earth.