• Pastor Brad Harris

What is a Christian to do? Part 1

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

Part One:  What is a Christian to do?

It is obvious to us all that we live in "interesting times." And in a time like this (Covid-19) we are inundated with perspectives, opinions, statistics, and so-called facts. We are told we "must" do this or that.  We are told that we must listen to those in authority, those who know better, we are told that we must listen to the scientist, the politician, the reporter, the pundit, and the expert.  The following is a few of the new experiences you and I are contending with that seem so foreign to our natural sensibilities:

1.    Day by day we are immersed in a torrent of information; some new, most the same as yesterdays just with a new twist.  We have been told we must engage in "social distancing," a term no one heard of two months ago.  

2.    We are continually chided about in importance of "bending the curve;”” washing our hands" and "sheltering in place." 

3.    The so-called experts have told us that we are in the middle of a pandemic and it is our social responsibility to follow the precautions they outline.  

4.    We see the President speak daily about this new viral breakout.  Governors have mandated that businesses' shut down and "non-essential" employees stay home.  

5.    Persons, who just a few weeks ago had no known role in our lives, are now setting policies that effect every one of us.  

6.    We see digital signs on the highway, thanking us for doing our part and for staying off the highway.  

7.    For the first time in memory large chain grocery stores, who are normally packed with row upon row of everyday items are suddenly unable to keep their shelves stocked or have "Soviet Union" like signs that say "only one per customer."  

8.    As a form of forced socialization, we are rebuked by the salesclerk to stay back six feet from the customer at the checkout register.  

9.    Like in the days of Nazi Germany, companies are issuing "papers" to employees to confirm that they are indeed traveling legally and to forestall a citation or arrest..

10.  Strangers are now deemed possible "carriers" and thus avoided and kept at a distance, to keep from the new dreaded danger of human contact.

11.   We are being conditioned to wear masks and gloves in public for fear of being "attacked" by this unseen enemy.

12.   An economy, that took ten years to recover to full employment and health, has been potentially decimated and the days of "wine and roses," has turned to "toilet paper and SpaghettiOs.'

13.   Elective surgeries/procedures, that could relieve pain (knee replacement) or more importantly detect life threatening conditions like colon cancer are now suspended until further notice.  All the while elective abortions are still being performed.

13.  Once thriving Churches are forced to minimize attendance or go online, all the while liquor stores, Big Box stores, and golf courses are doing a booming business.

14.  Pharmaceutical companies are selling (and making money on) non-FDA approved test kits; which they sell to the medical community to determine if individuals are infected with the SARS-CoV2 virus.  These same companies are working on a vaccine that they, in turn, will use to expand their profits exponentially from the inflated numbers of so called cases detected from their non-FDA approved test kits.*  They create the demand and then benefit by offering the supply.

15.  We are told that the "new normal" may include avoiding age-old practices such as shaking hands, hugging a friend, or even children playing with the neighbor's kids.  The new Order has begun.

* Test kits are now approved under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUD) Act. "Positive results do not rule out bacterial infection or coinfection with other viruses." RADM Denise M. Hinton Chief Scientist Food and Drug Administration

 Question:  What should a Christian do?

 Answer:     Think  Biblically!

Each us is responsible to develop a Biblical worldview.  Regenerated believers have the full capacity to think "rightly" about God, themselves, their families, their priorities, and the right way to engage the fallen world around them.  Jesus in His "Great Commission" to the Church said, "Go forth and make disciples."  Disciples are learners!  They are persons who have the capacity and the responsibility to daily conform (reform) their thinking in accordance with God's revealed will; which is found in Holy Scripture. There are numerous questions that need to be answered during a time like this; but for the sake of brevity, here are three of the most important each of us should be considering:

Question #1:     What is my responsibility to God in this circumstance?

Answer #1:    The answer is simple, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV).  The silver lining during this is that many of us have had time to reflect on our lives and what is truly important.  Many have realized that their lives were stuffed with too many activities, leaving God to become an afterthought in an indistinguishably unchristian life.  This crisis has provided us an opportunity to clean out our spiritual attics and unsnarl our jumbled-up lives.  During this, we have a short window afforded to us to make the necessary course corrections to position ourselves so that God is once again on the throne of our lives.  Daily Bible study, weekly Church attendance, daily prayer, exercising the Gifts for His Kingdom given to us and finally allowing Him in all quarters of our private lives.  Don't miss out!

Question #2:     What is my responsibility to my neighbor in this crisis?

Answer #2:    The answer here is simple as well:  "Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).  Please, note that the second priority is our neighbor and not our families.  Let's be honest, in practice we have rewritten Jesus' words.  We have positioned our devotion to family as a higher priority than even to our devotion to God Himself, let alone our neighbor.  So, let's get this right and be reminded that our neighbor's affairs and needs are not his alone.  We share this planet together, and each is responsible for the other, and my neighbor's health, or job, or marriage or family is as important to the Believer as if these were his own.  Jesus' brother wrote,” If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right"  (James 2:8 NIV).

Question #3:     What is my responsibility to the governing authorities over me?

Answer #3:    The answer here is not as simple:    The Apostle Paul is clear in his letter to the Romans as regards to submission to government:  

 "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.  Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."        Romans 13:1-7 NIV

The mandate is very clear, that we are to, "be subject to the governing authorities."  Now a few points:  

1.    First subjection means to arrange under, to be in a position of subordination.   Paul says later in the Book of Romans to, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone"  (Romans 12:8 NIV)

2.    Only One authority is absolute, and all other authority is subordinate authority which is apportioned and delegated.  Thus all authority is derived from a legitimate and established higher authority.  The policeman must receive a warrant from a higher authority (a Judge) to search a citizen's residence and such search is limited to that which the higher authority permits.  Thus, all earthly authority is limited, derived, and delegated.  The concept is "legitimate right to."

3.    Each country (under God's authority) has established its own form of governing authority.  The very definition of a "country" presupposes that said country is governed by some established and accepted general law or custom that all citizens of that country are called to obey (a higher authority).  Each country in turn constitutes a form of government to carry out the laws and customs of a particular nation.  Forms of government are:

    Anarchy:                            No one rules.

    Monarchy:                         One rules.

    Oligarchy:                          A Few rule.

    Democracy:                       All rule.

    Republic:                           All rule by representatives.

    Constitutional Republic:  Law rules.

4.    When Paul penned his letter to the Romans, the Christian world was under a Constitutional Monarchy.  Rome was the governing power and that power was primarily vested in the hands of the Emperor. 

5.    Until just recently in history (with the exception of the ancient Greeks) most forms of government were a Monarchy, where the locus of authority rested fully in the seat of the King.  He alone (or his delegates) could make laws, pass judgement, declare war, or exact taxes.  All authority was vested in the office of the King and all other authority was (only) legitimate if it flowed from him.  The citizens could only advise the King, but like God and His Kingdom, the King was under no obligation to bend to the will of the people.

6.    The ancient Greeks vested authority in the citizens who were male, 20 years or older and militarily trained.  Greek democracy was direct and not representative (like ours) and thus all authority was exercised in the assembly of the citizens who voted on every matter directly.

7.    In the United States ultimate authority is vested in the Constitution.  No President, Governor, Senator, Congressman, Judge, Mayor, Councilman, or any other official whether at the Federal or State level can usurp the sovereignty of the U. S. Constitution. All power and authority held by any position subordinate to the Constitution, i.e., the President, a military officer, a judge, are derived from the Sovereign authority of the supreme law of the land, namely the United States Constitution.

8.   In England the Queen is the ultimate authority from whom all other governmental authority is derived.  Thus, when enlisting in the British Armed Forces all person are required to swear the following oath: 

       "I (name) swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her  Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and of the generals (admirals / air officers) and officers set over me."

9.    However, in the United States when enlisting in the United States Armed Forces one must swear the following oath:

        I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

10.    In the United States the President swears the following oath as a prerequisite to taking office:

            "I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

11.    In the United States all members of the House of Representatives and Senate swear the following oath:

            "I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely,     without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So, help me God."

12.    In the United States all Federal Judges are required to swear two oaths before they can execute their appointed office:

            "I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as  (office) under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So, help me God."

            "I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation  or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So, help me God."

13.    In the United States the Virginia Constitution under Article II, section 7 says: 

            "All officers elected or appointed under or pursuant to this Constitution shall, before they enter on the performance of their public duties, severally take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation:

            "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me as .................,  according to the best of my             ability so help me God."

14.    Intermediate point:  According to (Max) Weber, power made legitimate by laws, written rules, and regulations is termed rational-legal authority. In this type of authority, power is vested in a particular rationale, system, or ideology and not  necessarily in the person implementing the specifics of that doctrine. A nation that follows a constitution is applying this type of authority."   (17.2 Power and Authority:  Introduction to Sociology, June 1, 2012, Openstax College, Rice University.

15.    Intermediate pointJohn Adams wrote that, "We are a nation of laws, not men."  Meaning "law" is king.

16.    Intermediate point:    In the United States Military, salutes are given to superior officers out of respect due to the rank they derive from the President of the United States who derives his authority to designate that rank by the Constitution.  Soldiers are required to salute because of the rank of the Officer and not because of the person who holds the rank.  Thus, authority is extended from the Constitution to the Officer's position but not to his person.  Many make the mistake of thinking that the   police officer is an "authority," and many police officers are mistaken to believe that they are an authority; when in fact the only authority they have is that which has been delegated to them to exercise in the confines of their position only, and that authority is from the  the Constitution.  Therefore, we are under no obligation to submit to an officer of the Constitution when they are working outside the limited mandate their position affords or where their actions or decisions are in clear violation of the clear will of the Sovereign (The Constitution). 

17.    Point for the Christian to Consider: Bill of Rights of the United States of America (1791):

Amendment ICongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the  government for a  redress of grievances.

          "The authorities (King, Emperor, Queen, Constitution) that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1 NIV).

         "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor) Rights, that among these are 

         Life, Liberty and  the pursuit of Happiness."    Declaration of Independence

Unalienable means that which is unable to be taken away or given away by the possessor because they do not belong to the possessor because they were "endowed' to the possessor by God.  These are pre-political rights.  These rights are not given to citizens by the government, like a drivers license, these rights are given by God and are to be protected by Government from violation by any party even the Government itself.

          "Natural rights are those that do not depend on the laws/customs of any particular culture or government, and so are universal and inalienable (they cannot be repealed by human laws, even by Constitutional Amendment.  

          The universal belief and call to worship God  is a natural right.  Natural rights predate government and are given by God.

18.    Final Point:  God has spoken on the matter of His worship and no man or Government can contravene His Will!

        "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8 NIV).

        "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:42-47 NIV).

To Be Continued:

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