“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Reference: Titus 3:1-3 )
The editors of Reading the Anabaptist Bible have a clear understanding of both historic Anabaptists and modern day Anabaptists/Mennonites, for they capture perfectly the perspectives of both groups in regards to governmental authority. The editors said, ”Submission to rulers and authorities is due as God ordained.” They also said, “many Anabaptists saw the rulers of their time as standing outside the saved community.” And they provided a wonder illustration of that by citing what Paul Glock related concerning an incident during his imprisonment.
“The chief overseer said, concerning the government, that he was surprised that God should condemn the government and not pronounce it saved, for God had ordered and instituted it. Answer: Pay close attention, gentlemen. God has two kinds of servants on earth today, as he did in times past. . . . The worldly government exists outside the kingdom of Christ. The kingdom of Christ and God is his church, his congregation. They are his servants and children . . . his kingdom and church is spiritual. . . . the government is worldly and not spiritual . . . You overlords are to punish unrighteous sinners and evildoers, but guard and protect the devout people who fear God. That is why Paul says to us his brethren, Rom. 13:6, that we are to pay taxes to you for it. But you practice the opposite upon us. You do indeed take the taxes, let the godless sinner go free, but punish the pious, torture, kill, and imprison them, as you openly show in our case. Therefore the punishment you receive from God will be all the greater.”
When I was growing in the sheltered Mennonite environment of small town southern Ontario the greater authorities and rulers were in my home church, and backed up my mother 100% on everything she told me and taught me. The civic government was far removed from me and I knew very, very little about politics. Canadian politics is not for the faint of heart, nor for the straitlaced and procedural oriented. In short, I didn’t pay much mind to politics and neither did anyone else I knew. And if God ordained and instituted the government in Ontario, Canada, the Lord used a delicate hand and a refined sense of humor.
And then I moved to the United States. After living here 30 plus years, I believe that if God instituted and ordained government here, somewhere along the way humanity took over the planning and implementation. This is one area where my view and perspective has changed over the last five years. Five years ago in my post for this day I made the mild suggestion that Christians could and should be involved in governing and government. In our present day of 2014 I would back away from that suggestion. Christians should not being involved in the higher levels of government. Not that government could not benefit from it – I believe it would! But government and politics would chew up and spit most Christians. And the Christians who could and would stay, I fear, would be pulled off course from Christian living.
God instituted and ordained governance and control of society, keeping within laws and insuring fairness. Humanity, I think, has taken that noble aim and turned it for their own agenda and gain. That is not so say there are not good people and good outcomes; but the preponderance is personal gain and greed. If we are keeping score, that is one point for living in historic Anabaptist times.
May you gentle reader obey God’s laws and humanity’s laws, always keeping in mind the way God would have instituted and ordained political authority. Selah!