Currently, here in the US, there has been a great deal of buzz over social media and the News media regarding the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. This post is not about the politics, conspiracies, nor the alleged federal police brutality. I’m only interested in the Biblical perspective. I believe the Bundy family is Mormon, so this isn’t for them so much as it is for my fellow Christians who engage in politics, particularly the “conservatives”.
Our text for this post comes from 1 Peter 2:
1 Peter 2:11-25 (ESV)
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to Him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
This is tough teaching. Remember the time frame in which this letter was written. These men suffered persecution unto death. Peter most likely died under the persecution of Nero (ref: The Deaths of the 12 Apostles). With that understanding, notice Peter’s specific instruction to Honor the emperor. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Great Commission do not require the support of any nation of men. For we are the Temple of God the Holy Spirit, and in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:22-31).
My heart goes out to this rancher for the loss of his livelihood (his cattle) and the apparent end of an era of ancestral claims to the land. However, notice verse 20, “for what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure“… he hasn’t paid federal gracing fees for over 30 years. The time to fight an unjust law is when the unjust law is in effect, not simply when the due punishment for ignoring the unjust law is at your doorstep. If you wait until your punishment, then the virtue of fighting the unjust law has lost its credibility, for you are now only fighting to justify your own action (or inaction). My heart breaks at the waning of a once-great nation of freedom. There is only one Nation of God, and that is the Kingdom of Heaven, of which we who have been grafted in by the Blood of Jesus Christ are a part. It is tempting to elevate the US to status of a “Christian nation”, though it was never truly a Nation under God. It was a well-established nation, founded on good principles of freedom and limited government, and its Constitution was clearly a masterfully written document. Were it a Christian Nation, its laws would have been drafted to honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is not to say it was built an evil nation, or to argue that it wasn’t established to be a free nation. Many of the founding fathers were Deists and Humanists whose desire was to create a system where all religions were protected and no religion would be “established” by Law. That is not a bad thing as far as a government, but let us not confuse it with a Biblical thing. The Bible does not leave room for any other gospel, for Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, obey the Word of God. Wherever possible and where ever practicable, participate in local politics wisely, but do not confuse the politics of a lost world with the role of the Church. They are completely separate. The world HATES Jesus, and it will hate us because of Him. In closing, I’d like to share a reminder of what Jesus said to His disciples regarding persecution when He sent them out:
Matthew 10:16-23 (ESV)16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
I pray that you will continue to grow in the Word and walk in the Spirit of God. Pray for our leaders, pray for boldness, and pray for peace; however, know that persecution will come and that we serve an Just and Loving God who will carry us through to the end.