As our nation is now embroiled in fierce debate about right and wrong, and as Christians are drawn into the discussion, I find some need for clarity on what is good, what is godly.

Below are a few thoughts: None of this is directed at a political party or political figure. I find myself disillusioned with partisan, party politics and with leaders on all sides who seem to spend their time attacking each other rather than working together on our problems. I find myself longing for wise leadership that can bring sides together, that values everyone. I find myself longing for God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

What does that look like?

Within God’s perspective, public virtue is always based on private virtue. Evil in private, virtuous in public is not virtuous. Within Christ’s teachings, congruency is expected, integrity required. Jesus taught that a good heart produces good, an evil heart evil.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Luke 6:45

Jesus condemned those who looked good but had greedy and selfish hearts.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

Mathew 23:25

Inside the cup matters. Greed and selfishness is a chronic personal and political leadership problem for all of us. Care for others, unselfish thoughts of our nation’s future, other nation’s futures. our planet’s future should — if we are unselfish — enter our discussions about race, gender, debt, wars, pollution, health and community fairness and integrity.

The kingdom of God is unselfish. It thinks of the welfare of all people, men and women, all races, all faiths, all nations. It seeks peace, it is willing to negotiate, to listen, to be fair.

The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 

James 3:17

We would do well to use James’s standards to judge the wisdom of our leaders, to judge what is love, to judge governmental decisions, laws, and to measure ourselves.

Next, we must hold to this: a good end is never justified by an evil means. If someone does evil, God may work some good out of it — perhaps their downfall and replacement by a better person — but God holds all of us responsible for our actions.

Evil behavior is never justifiable. Paul gets at this in one key place saying. “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”

Romans 6:1

No person in any culture or government has an exemption from being moral, good and legal. A public official does not have an elite, morally exempt status. Nor does a rich or powerful citizen. Nor does a group. We are all judged by our laws and by God alike. Right is right for all.

God held the ancient Jewish kings to his standards and commands. Saul didn’t get away with disobeying God. Neither did David get away with immorality. Neither did the nations of the Old Testament sin before God without God noticing and responding.

We can’t see this as clearly today, but I am convinced God is watching and in his time and way he will bring justice and kindness to many.

What are the means by which we might measure a godly kingdom or government?

The greatest Christian and Jewish moral code provides a standard for behavior; this is the Ten Commandments. Many laws are derived from that. That’s a starting point for standards.

But there is a Biblical standard beyond that. Jesus came with something new. He taught that the highest Christian measure of godliness and of virtue is love. He brought love and forgiveness in as a deep part of God’s plan. Apply this to politics. The best leaders love; they that means they understand grace. The best government is the most loving, like the best person. It is certainly not the most dominant. Love is the greatest law and the greatest power.

The great command by which we measure good is love. Does this person, public or private, love people, all people, neighbors? Does this government love? It’s odd that we never ask that, seldom apply that standard to government, particularly when we have a people’s government, government by the people of the people and for the people. A group of people is not subject to a different moral law then one person. They may have different functions but there isn’t a different morality to govern them.

The state has the right, for instance, to arrest, judge, incarcerate and punish. But only and always morally and justly and by law. We are commanded to respect this and our leaders in Romans 13.

In this role authorities should protect, as they are appointed to do, but protection must still be guided by love and protection from evil is to be accomplished by doing good. Good government doesn’t protect just one group or one kind of person. Jesus set up a love standard and he didn’t exclude anyone or any group from it. Thus there is a Christian ban on racism.

We should respect governments, engage them to engage the kingdom, vote, lobby, protest, serve in them in order to establish love on earth.

But when government is wrong, we have a higher calling to respect God. When men, especially when leaders or governments are wrong, we must speak and act for the good.

When commanded to stop preaching about Jesus, “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’”

Acts 5:29

Particularly in the United States, where we have freedom of speech, we are responsible to speak up when things are wrong and to stand for what is good. That is our civic duty, to stand up for love. The kingdom of God looks like wise love!

Finally, who do we Christians look to for protection?

We do look to governments, just and fair governments, but we must apply great wisdom and oversight. Too often governments have used people, us, all of us, to do evil and they have also abused us for being good. Sometimes they have protected us, and we are grateful for that, and we must continue to use and work with governments to create order and protection of the good, but ultimately, we look to God for our help, even in crafting good governments and electing good leaders.

Scripture constantly points to God, not government, for guidance, wisdom and protection precisely from the ways and means of unreliable humans and dangerous enemies.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

“Never will I leave you;

    never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.

    What can mere mortals do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5-6

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s