“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.” (Reference: 1 Timothy 1:8-10 )
Historic Anabaptist Ambrosius Spitelmaier wrote, “All government which has existed from the time of Adam until now has been instituted by God. But it has not remained in God for it has exceeded its power and still does today. . . . Now . . . the government begins to judge words and deeds which it thinks to be against God, but which are for God. And in this sense it is like Pilate when he condemned Christ. The true, real Christians who are Christians in Spirit and in truth, of whom he says in Matt. 11: “Learn from me, for I am kind and of a humble heart,” do not require a government, sword or power, for they willingly do righteousness. Paul says in 1 Tim. 1, “To the righteous no law is given.” But those Christians who are Christians only in words, “Lord, Lord,” they require their government at all times for their piety, otherwise they would put out each other’s eyes. A piety which must be enforced does not please God. God wants a voluntary spirit as he said to the rich young ruler (Matt. 19).”
I had pondered yesterday whether the times we are living in are closer to New Testament times or historic Anabaptist times or something in between. You may say, beloved, the times that we are living in now are unique and like no other. But I am not sure that is accurate.
I remember a time like the writer of 1 Timothy writes, when laws were only relevant to lawbreakers, who were not typical; and most people abided by the law or did not even need the law to remind them how to live. That does not seem to be the case now. (I will not say more than that or I will be on my soapbox all night.) But I would hate to think that we are in historic Anabaptist times where the government itself accuses its citizenry of breaking laws when they live according to God’s laws.
But is not to say there is only those two poles of existence. There is middle ground, and many middle grounds in many countries and communities – places where the law does not accuse people but protects them from outside sources that would hurt them. That is the sort of place I would like to live in. And for the most part I would like to believe I do. And would like that for you too beloved.
The one place we do have assurance of that is life in God. Maybe that is why historic Anabaptists passed down to the spiritual descendents reliance not on civic or governmental/political leaders but religious leaders. People who receive their laws for living from God. May you dwell in places where God’s law rules and where your faith community is strong. Selah!