“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (Reference: 1 Peter 2:13-17 )
The historic Anabaptist who were imprisoned at Trieste wrote in their confession, “We also believe and know that there is a holy Christian church and a godly and Christian communion. This church is the body of Christ, and he, Christ, is the head and governs the whole body. This church is holy and without spot (Eph. 8[5:23, :27]). If an offensive member is found on the body which cannot be corrected in any way, it is expelled from the church and regarded as a heathen (Matt. 18:17). No other penalty is used in the Christian church (Mark 9:43). It was forbidden by Christ and he did not desire to rule in an earthly kingdom (Matt. 20:22-23; Mark 10:39-40). My kingdom, he said, is not of this world (John 6:15, 15[18:36]). But to all authority, emperor, king, or regents we give interest, tithes, rents, discounts, and tax following the teaching of Paul and Peter, as long as it is not used for war (Rom. 13:6-7). Peter, the holy apostle, says that we should be subject to all human authority (1 Pet. 2:13-14). We also know how he himself did it when the government demanded from him what was contrary to God. He refused to obey like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, and many other examples in the Old and New Testament (Dan. 3, 6; 2 Matt. [Macc.] 7).”
I told you, beloved, of modern Anabaptists/Mennonites who do not pay some or all of their taxes in order to not support war. I told you also about growing up with little knowledge or interest in political authority, civic authority or government. And because I had little interest in government and such things, I did not judge government in any way. And then I moved to the United States.
My husband-to-be introduced me to civil disobedience – the mildest of ways let me add. Being a US citizen and of the age where the military would have liked him to investigate the possibilities of joining of their branches of service, he had opinions on that. He declined showing even the mildest of interests and refused to offer up any identifying information about himself. It was a very “gutsy” move for the times. At that point in my life I was highly into judging political authority. And judged all of them to be not worth much! I did come to learn of some who merited good regard.
But over time I came to realize that all “political authority” are actually individual people, and it is only fair to judge them according to their individual actions. I am not sure it tipped the scale to think better of them. But what it did result in is my asking “Are they doing the best job possible under the circumstances?” And, “Are they trying NOT to do harm to the people they have pledged to serve?” And most of the time my answer is, “Yes.” That does not mean I agree with their policies. Nor does it mean I think they are without agenda or personal bias. But that could be said of a lot of people who are NOT political authorities. So it does not good to jump on political authorities for what I see non-political authorities doing.
My opinion has been, and will probably be for a long long time, politics just divides us. And keeping within my pledge to be non-political about being non-political that’s about all I have to say.
Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world.” That is a truth I believe in strongly. If we would live as if our behavior in this world has implications for what happens to us in the world to come, I suspect that a lot of politics would just drop away. I’d like that.
May you beloved judge people using the measuring stick of our Lord God. And I pray you not fall short of that yourself. Selah!