JUSTICE, GOVERNMENT AND THE CHRISTIAN

You know the golden rule, don’t you? No, not that one in Matthew 7:12 about doing unto others as you want them to do unto you. I mean the world’s version – “He who has the gold makes the rules!” It has long been true that those who have money can buy whatever they want. The bigger the fortune the more one can buy and I don’t mean just material things. It appears that in today’s election, money interests are trying to buy a president! When this happens justice is a casualty of greed and power.

The rich sometimes “buy” their version of justice. Bribery and pay-offs of law officers, judges, jurors and whoever can wield what ever influence needed to get the rich what they want is what they will do to get off the hook for their unlawful manipulation of people and government. Government officials are notorious for their misuse of power and disregard for principles of justice and fairness. Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 5:8 says that this is no surprise – it goes on and has gone on at all levels of governmental bureaucracy.

If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them.”

Perversion of justice happened in Bible days and it happens today. The sons of Samuel, appointed by their father to be judges over Israel are a case in point.

Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:3).

What is the purpose of political PACs if not to influence lawmakers to enact laws favorable to the people and corporations who fund them? What is that except a perversion of justice when those laws result in harm to the poor and defenseless? These organizations, supported by rich corporations and individuals, hire lobbyists to try and sway legislators to enact laws favorable to their interests of greater and greater profits. Often the laws they seek to have put in place have little if any protection for their workers or the public in general. The poor and even ordinary citizens have no power to protect themselves from these abuses of power.

Does God care about the perversion of justice? Does he care about the nations that make such perversion a way of life – a way of doing business? In the New Testament, James has a scathing rebuke for the rich oppressors who denied their workers a fair wage for their labor.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.” (James 5:1-6).

Every act of greed and graft cries out for justice. Every act of oppression of the poor demands a just retribution. Every act of partiality or discrimination calls out for judgment. But in all too many cases man’s justice turns a blind eye to that crying need.

When in the name of political expediency (getting elected) candidates for high office sell out to money interests the stage is set for some of the greatest abuses of justice. If he sells out to money interests then whatever promotes the profits of those corporations whose money got him elected is what he will do. If the expedient is to cater to those whose interest is in a humanistic morality, (abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, homosexual “rights,” same sex marriage, etc.) then the whole of their constituency will suffer the results of that lowered, relativistic standard(?) of morality.

The simple fact of the matter is that we cannot expect justice in the best sense of the word in our world today. Justice comes from the heart and mind of God. From a societal or governmental standpoint, most of our people and most our officials are not that deeply affected by the Biblical, divinely based concept of morality and justice. Humanism with its relativistic, ever changing standard is by far the prevailing influence in our society. As far as these people are concerned, God has been relegated to the trash heap of irrelevancy. When God has been kicked out of the public arena we cannot expect the values that come from faith in him to dominate over the forces of evil.

To those who on this election day are hoping that their candidate is elected so things will be better in terms of the economy, in foreign affairs and a multitude of other thorny problems facing our world, let me say this. Don’t be surprised that nothing really changes for the better regardless of which candidate is elected. It is our society that is broken. A broken society will elect broken candidates. Broken elected officials make for a broken government. And a broken government cannot fix a broken society. In fact, the best government that can be devised cannot fix a broken society. It takes something far more powerful than the government of the United States to do that. It takes the power of the Almighty who has been kicked out of the lives and thoughts of many of the people of this nation.

In spite of the pessimistic outlook I have outlined above, I do not believe that all is lost as far as America is concerned. The reason is that there is a higher power who is ultimately in control. The great proud king of Babylon learned…

“…that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” (Daniel 4:17).

Later, Darius the Mede issued a decree that all his people should “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel

“…for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end
.” (Daniel 6:26).

God’s kingdom – his right to rule – extends to all of creation. His kingdom was established with the annunciation of Jesus as “Lord and Christ” on the day of Pentecost. That kingdom is visibly represented by the church which serves as an agency of his rule in the present world. The people who make up the church are the citizens of the kingdom on earth. They represent the interests of the kingdom. They are to actively pursue the goals of the kingdom.

In doing this it is not the responsibility of Christians to take over the governments of this world and establish a “Christian” nation, imposing on non-Christians the laws of God’s kingdom. As much as it may be desired, it is not our responsibility to elect a government of people who are Christians. It is not the responsibility of the church to dictate either to government or to society in general the morals by which they should live. If people desire any of these things they must freely decide for themselves that is what they want.

What that means in practical terms is that these kingdom people are to show to the world what the kingdom of heaven is like. We do that by living like God has always wanted his people to live. That life he expects us to live is the kind of life that makes people good neighbors and good citizens of whatever nation and whatever form of government they may live under. It is the kind of life the prophet Micah told people God expected of them in his day.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).

It is the kind of things Jesus pointed out as the “weightier matters of the law” in Matthew 23:23 – “justice and mercy and faithfulness.” The apostle Paul said that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17).

In order to accomplish these objectives Christians must show no partiality in dealings with other people. It matters not what race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, political party, economic status or anything else that people allow as excuses to divide them, as Christians we cannot allow ourselves to be prejudiced, treating others unfairly and unjustly.

Christians must care about those who are less fortunate, the poor, the sick, the downtrodden. James described the religion God accepts in James 1:27;

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

In order to accomplish these very needed objectives Christians must give up their sectarian cloisters, begin to work together and get out into the world and start being the salt and light Jesus intends for us to be. Instead of just “going to church” Christians must start being the church – being what Jesus intended for us to be to the world. We are to be to the world what he was to the world when he was here. We are to be his hands ministering to the poor, the needy the sick, the orphans and widows the hungry and all others who need the loving care of the Savior. We are to be his feet going into all the world and to all the lost with the message of his love, sharing the story of his death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the throne in heaven. We are to be the living declaration of the gospel, showing in pure and holy lives the power it has to change, to give meaning for the present and hope for the future to those who are in despair.

No matter who wins the election today, the responsibility of Christians will be the same as it was yesterday. The needs of the nation and of the world will be the same and the people who ought best understand both the needs and the answer to those needs are the Lord’s people. Let’s reflect the glory of Christ’s kingdom into this confused, searching, sin-fraught society. And let us as Christians be the very best citizens of this nation or of whatever nation we may happen to belong to. (Romans 13:1).

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