In one movie adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s book “War and Peace,” the narrator declares, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” What responsibilities do Christians have when they see their country heading in an ungodly direction? Let’s look at seven ways believers can stand up and take action.
1. Choose wise leadership.
In this nation, we have the opportunity to select many of the people who will be in authority over us. Unfortunately, a number of Americans never exercise their right to vote. They rationalize that they don’t know the nominees, that none of the candidates are godly, or that one ballot can’t make a difference. But believers have a responsibility to investigate each contender and cast an intelligent vote.
- What qualities should we look for when selecting a leader (Ex. 18:21-22)?
- Do you educate yourself each election and exercise your right to vote? Why or why not?
2. Submit to authority.
God ordained the institution of human government, and He gives leaders their positions of power
- What are the consequences of failing to subject ourselves to human authorities (Rom. 13:1-2)
- What does submission to government include (Rom. 13:6-7)?
The early church existed during the time of the emperor Nero, one of the cruelest and most ruthless persecutors of Jews and Christians. Under his rule, believers were fed to lions, crucified upside down, and burned alive.
- Given the historical context, describe how believers might have responded to the instructions in 1 Peter 2:13-17.
Nero eventually committed suicide; the Roman Empire is no more. But Christianity thrives around the world. Our duty is to be obedient to the laws of our land and trust God to bring any change that is necessary.
However, civil disobedience—disregarding laws based on conscience—is appropriate on two occasions. We should not obey the state when it requires us to do something that God forbids or when it prohibits us from doing something He commands. (See Acts 4:19-20.)
- Under what specific types of circumstances do you think you would disobey the laws of this land?
3. Cry out to God on behalf of our authorities.
When a country’s leaders are making unrighteous or unwise decisions, the most powerful thing Christians can do is to intercede. Ask the Lord to influence ungodly leaders and put righteous people in places of authority.
- What is one result of praying for those in leadership (1 Tim. 2:1-3)?
Our problem is that we do far more complaining and accusing than praying. Many believers are apathetic and unwilling to invest time interceding for our land.
- Explain why the following statement is unbiblical: “My prayers won’t make any difference” (Matt. 7:7).
- Evaluate your own life. When was the last time you spent time praying for the President, your representatives and senators, or the Supreme Court judges?
4. Communicate with our authorities.
We have a responsibility to communicate what we believe to our leaders. Many people in this country have never contacted their congressional representatives. Perhaps they think, What is one letter, call, or email going to do? Maybe not much on its own. But when elected officials get multitudes of letters on the same topic, they will take notice.
- What happens to a city (or state or nation) when godly citizens exert influence (Prov. 11:11)?
Contact information for representatives and senators is available at www.congress.org.
5. To cooperate with authorities for the good of the land.
As punishment for their idolatry, God’s people were exiled to Babylon, a foreign country.
- What were the Lord’s instructions (Jer. 29:7)?
- Wherever a Christian settles, that locality should be better off because he or she is there. How can you help your neighborhood or city prosper economically, socially, or spiritually?
6. Commend godly leadership.
Authorities who rightly take an unpopular stand need our support. One way to do this is to write an encouraging letter and let them know you are praying for them.
- First Thessalonians 5:11-14 tells believers how to interact with others in the church. What from this passage could also apply to encouraging civic leaders?
Believers should honor those who hold offices of great responsibility—and do so in a godly way.
7. To condemn unwise, immoral acts and laws.
Even while we show respect for the position of our leaders, we should speak against ungodly and unwise policies.
- How did Jesus illustrate that His followers should be a preserving moral force in their culture
- What attitude should a believer take when speaking the truth (Eph. 4:15)? Why do you think this is often difficult in the political arena?
Just as salt must leave the shaker to flavor food, believers need to speak up about social and political issues to make a difference.
Closing: If we as Christians are unwilling to exercise our civic responsibilities, we will reap a dreadful harvest of ungodly leaders, unrighteous laws, and ultimately, the judgment of God on our land. Responsibility and freedom go hand in hand. Don’t simply pursue spiritual and material prosperity for yourself and your family; fulfill your divine obligation as an inhabitant of this great land.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the clear instructions in Your Word that guide every area of my life. Show me how to take an active role as a citizen of America. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.