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The biblical duty of governmental leaders

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As politics take over the majority of news headlines, more Americans may be asking themselves: What is the role of our national leaders?

According to the Bible, those who serve in government are ministers of God. Many Americans and even American Christians have never considered that distinction and prefer to oppose or avoid political leaders altogether. However, God desires that we encourage governing leaders to serve Him and the people they lead. Romans 13:4 notes, “He is God’s minister—or servant—to you for good.” Therefore, our leaders and officials are to protect those who do what’s morally right, as well as to bring justice against those who do what’s morally wrong. That’s why the highest duty of governing involves creating and implementing laws to enact justice and to maintain peace throughout the land.

The Bible calls governing leaders “ministers” or “servants.” They are to serve both God and the citizens. But what does this mean in today’s culture? Political leaders are to be, to the people they represent, protectors of righteousness and defenders of truth. This word “minister” in Romans 13:6 literally means to be a leader in worship to God. In other words, according to God’s plan, all politicians possess the distinct obligation to live in the fear of God and cause people to look to God who created life, liberty and all natural rights.

Like King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon said after being forced by God to his knees in submission, “I do extol and recognize the God of heaven who is able to raise up and bring down those He will.” Our political leaders should sense a duty to protect the people they serve. And those who lead our nation need our support when they work to protect its citizens. Just imagine if those in office today would acknowledge that God is Supreme and would lead our nation to also acknowledge the God of heaven.

At the highest level, another question begs an answer: What does it mean that our nation’s president serves as “commander in chief”? How does this role reflect a biblical worldview? In I Samuel 10:1, King Saul was anointed as both king and commander of his people. Psalm 47:9 even calls national leaders “the shields of the earth.” In America’s founding documents, we find similar writing. In Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the President of the United States is named “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.”

A righteous president and other national leaders will seek to protect their citizens. This is both godly and practical, as the good of the people directly impacts those who lead them. Rather than avoid or mock our nation’s political leaders, we’re called to pray for them. May we both pray for and support our governing authorities when they fulfill their duty to protect the people.

Additionally, how many Christians are aware that the Bible speaks of political leaders as conduits of truth and justice? In our culture, politicians are often rightly viewed with skepticism and criticism at every turn, yet the Bible says they are “sent by God” to punish lawbreakers and encourage righteousness.” I Peter 2 notes governing leaders are defined as people who should enforce laws against criminals and recognize honorable citizens.

As believers, we’re commanded to live as law-abiding citizens as part of God’s will for our lives. Despite our “resistance” culture that often seeks to undermine government and oppose authority, God calls us to consciously live out His principles and “silence the ignorance of foolish men.” We’re to submit to governing authorities. As Peter notes in I Peter 2:17: “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King.”

Finally, God has provided American citizens the privilege to be involved in the political process. Whether through voting, expressing our values or even running for elected office, our liberty offers many ways to participate. How would our nation be different if all believers across our nation prayed daily for our leaders, lived godly values and participated in the process of government in a greater way?

We would see the Lord bless our nation and bring times of refreshing to our land.

The Hon. Sam Rohrer is president of the American Pastors Network, a national network of pastors with constitutional and biblical teachings that discusses today’s pressing issues. He was a Pennsylvania lawmaker for 18 years and hosts the daily “Stand in the Gap Today” national radio program on more than 400 stations and Host of the “Stand in the Gap” national television program.

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