THE TENSION OF SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY AND SPEAKING PROPHETICALLY
There is a tension between the need to speak out to the sins of society and the the need to respect government authority. Scripture is clear that the Christian is to submit to the authority of government since it is instituted by God. Beyond that, even those in power are appointed by God. They may act like the devil, or may be ambivalent to their God-ordained responsibility, but irrespective of that we are to respect the position, even if we have difficulty respecting the person and especially their policies! The exception to this being that if human authority calls upon us to violate God's law, we must obey God rather than man, as did Peter and John when threatened by the government for preaching the Gospel.
So, how does one respectfully speak to immoral and unjust policies without coming across as sarcastic or disrespectful? That's the tough part. Surely, we cannot be silent when it comes to crying out against legalized murder--what we call abortion--or the destruction of free enterprise through a Marxist philosophy--what is termed economic stimulus--or the proliferation of pornography--what is promoted as free speech.
The balance is what Paul called, "speaking the truth in love." Surely, it is what Moses did when confronting Pharaoh. It was doubtless the tone taken by Nathan as he exposed King David's sin. It is what Elijah did when addressing Ahab. It was the manner of John the Baptist preaching to Herod. It is how Paul dealt with the authorities of his day. Supremely, it is how Jesus spoke to Pilate. Those are our models.
We cannot be so passive as to cower down and refuse to stand for righteousness and against evil. Otherwise, we are complicit with the assault on God and people, much as many Germans who looked the other way when Hitler was pursuing his "Final Solution." How can that be real love--love for God and love for people--that would allow sheep to be herded to the slaughter? That is what we are witnessing in America today--the trail that leads to the butcher shop! But neither can we condone violence in our methods or racism in our messages that show disregard for both truth and love. Some of the "challenges" addressed to the current administration seem to have these as undercurrents, and that is a polluted stream.
Revival or ruin? Which path will we take? Let us pray for our elected officials as Scripture enjoins us. When they are offtrack, let us speak the truth in love. May we not be silent when we ought to speak and speak righteously and respectfully--we don't have to sacrifice one for the other. It is a tension and it is tough. But it can be done. It must be done, for Christ has called us to be in the world, yet not of the world. For the present we are here, and who knows but what we have come to this kingdom for such a time as this?