Many of us grew up in Sunday School and church. We have heard the great Bible stories over and over. We heard about the story of how Moses’ mother defied Pharaoh and hid her little baby boy in bulrushes. We heard the story of how Moses killed the Egyptian taskmaster defending a Hebrew slave and later became the great deliverer of God’s people. We heard the story of young David going out alone against the Philistines’ greatest warrior, Goliath. We heard the story of how Saul’s servants refused to carry out the king’s order to murder the priest Ahimelech. We know well the story of Daniel who defied his government’s order to refrain from praying. The names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are very familiar to us. We heard our teachers and preachers extol their courage in defying the government’s order to bow to the image of their emperor. We remember that John the Baptist went to prison (and was eventually beheaded), not for preaching the Gospel, but for criticizing the king for his immoral behavior. We certainly recall the story of Simon Peter who bluntly told his civil magistrates, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” We know that the Apostle Paul wrote many of his epistles from inside government prisons. We certainly recall that before John penned the Revelation, he had been banished to an island-prison by his civil authorities.
I challenge Christians to objectively look at the great stories of Bible heroes (in both testaments) and observe how many times they are noted for either being martyred for defying a civil authority, or, perhaps, for being delivered from death for defying a civil authority. The stories of defiance to civil government (in one form or another) comprise a great percentage of all the stories contained in the Bible–perhaps even a majority of them.
So, how has it happened that a majority of today’s Christians, it seems, have become such sheepish slaves of government? How has it happened that, for the most part, the concept of courage in the face of government oppression has been totally lost to the average Christian, pastor, and church? For all intents and purposes, it is time for many Christians to shred their Bibles, because the lessons and principles of God’s Word have absolutely no influence over their attitudes and conduct.
For example, if the story of Peter in prison were being experienced today, instead of the church rallying behind their pastor and conducting an all-night prayer meeting for him, most church members would be excoriating him in the name of Romans chapter 13. Instead of Paul being let down the wall in a basket to escape the civil authorities trying to apprehend him, the average Christian today would be the first one to turn him over to the authorities.
In the mind of the average Christian, God is not God; government is God! For instance, when one well-known Christian attorney was recently confronted by the teaching of Scripture relative to the church’s independence from government (meaning, no church should allow itself to be subject to the government’s tyrannical 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt status), he said, “That might be Biblically correct, but it is not legally correct.” In other words, the “Christian” attorney would rather a church be legal than Biblical. And, unfortunately, that seems to be the attitude of the vast majority of professing Christians today. They would rather please the government than please God; they would rather obey the government than obey God; they would rather be at peace with the government than be at peace with God.
And when it comes to the courage of risking anything of value in order to do right, forget it!
Think of what Abram risked when he obeyed God and left his country and kin and struck out for a land that God had not even told him of. Think of what Moses risked when he killed that Egyptian; think of what Joshua and Caleb risked when they defied the entire nation that was following the evil counsel of the ten spies; think of what David risked when he faced the giant; think of what Elijah risked when he confronted 850 false prophets all by himself; think of what the Old Testament prophets risked when they rebuked or challenged the kings of Israel and Judah; think of what the disciples risked when they “left all” and followed Jesus; think of what the early church risked when it embraced the Gospel and defied the wishes of Rome and Jewry (not to mention their own families and friends). But these stories are more like fairy tales to the average Christian today. They serve no practical benefit whatsoever!
Let a church deacon, trustee, or elder be told by some government-backed attorney that he is really a corporate officer, subject to the laws and punishments of IRS tax codes, and that church leader will say anything, sign anything, or do anything to save his own financial security. In order to not jeopardize his own standing with the IRS, that same church leader would turn his back on his best friend, or gladly join with the government in prosecuting a fellow believer.
I personally know of more than one case where professing Christians either lied against a beloved brother in order to protect themselves against threatened government (read: IRS) penalties, or actually testified for the prosecution (read: IRS) under oath in a court of law against a Christian brother. In each case, these “brothers” actually felt it was their “Christian duty” to betray their friends and brothers and help the government.
I am reminded of the verse where Jesus said, “Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2 KJV)
I am also reminded of the warning from the prophet Jeremiah when he cautioned, “Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.” (Jeremiah 9:4,5 KJV)
Jeremiah’s prophecy is spot-on! Christians today cannot be trusted to be faithful to the truth; they cannot be trusted to not betray and turn against their brethren; they cannot be trusted to not be party with slander and libel. If it means saving their own skin, or keeping their bread buttered, or staying in the good graces of the IRS, they would sell out their best friend–maybe even their own mother! And it is no coincidence that Jeremiah, himself, experienced firsthand that which he had spoken. It is no wonder he said, “Trust ye not any brother.”
When will Christians get it through their heads (and in their hearts) that oftentimes government is the enemy of God? When will they understand that they have only one Sovereign: King Jesus? When will they come to comprehend that helping government perpetrate unjust action against fellow believers is a crime against Heaven? When will they stop talking about the Bible and actually start internalizing its teachings, examples, and principles?
It has gotten to the point today many unbelievers are far more trustworthy than today’s Christians–especially when it comes to the subject of resisting unjust government. It grieves me say that many “Christian” attorneys, politicians, pastors, and church leaders are merely shills and toadies for a government that has often become both oppressive and illegitimate!
May God help us! He will have to, because we won’t get much help from the vast majority of today’s professing Christians. That is for sure!