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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS

The Form of Government God Blesses

Thomas Jefferson composed the first draft of the Declaration of Independence from English rule on behalf of the Continental Congress in 1776. His most memorable and most often quoted statement is: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As a deist, which many of the US founding fathers were, he believed God created the structure of the universe, gave it energy, and let it go under His watch. This has been compared to a clock-maker. You buy the clock and the package is complete and perfect. You, as the owner, however, must now take responsibility for the clock’s workings. You must be vigilant in winding it up daily and calibrating it periodically so it matches the same time as all the other clocks.

The clock-maker is no longer directly involved in the affairs of time keeping, although the owner could call upon him for help. This analogy may well be lost on my younger readers who grew up with electronically operated, maintenance free digital clocks and watches. Yet they can still relate, since such modern timepieces are still dependent on their owners for battery changes, occasional calibrations and the programming of their many other features.

Jefferson penned a poetic and truthful-sounding statement. There may be little argument that these truths are “self-evident.” They are not, however, found in Scripture. As humans, we must institute and practice laws and agreements to safeguard the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of our citizens. But since the day Jefferson wrote this dictum, many laws created loopholes in it.

For example, we have the legal right to kill unborn and partially born children. Paradoxically, if, by accident, someone injures a pregnant woman resulting in her unborn child’s death, that person’s liberty may well be denied under charges of manslaughter, involuntarily or not.

“Happiness” also needs defining. The happiness of many is pursued at the cost and violation of God’s creation, of our natural and human resources, and by robbing others of their lives and liberties, subjecting them to poverty, despair and suffering. The happiness of corporations has a distinct character apart from the human soul. Corporations are devoid of heart, driven by politics and economics. They pledge allegiance to no nation or human population, except those that invest their funds in the corporation. They exist only on paper, undetectable to the senses.

Governments are corporate entities. Government or private corporations are unable to love, feel passion or compassion. They cannot care, nurture or respect. They are machines, not humans, and as such have no human heart. Yet so many people sacrifice their hearts and sacred honor on their behalf. Those that try to impart human qualities to corporations do not understand the nature of the beast.

No human in this world has the first hand experience of living in a kingdom. Many know life in a dictatorship, republic (which is often mistaken for a “democracy”) or tribe. Yet we Christians throw around the term “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” thinking those outside our faith will understand what we are talking about. (Many Christians don’t realize they don’t know themselves what “kingdom” means as their politics, worldviews and ways of pursuing happiness betray them.) Christ declared we cannot serve or be allied to two masters, God and “mammon.” (Matthew 6:24.) Mammon, often translated as money, is a Aramaic word meaning the deification of wealth or avarice, which happens to be the bottom line of corporations and our stock exchanges so many check daily or more often than that.

If God is our King, we are then His subjects. But few of us have experience in being obedient, submissive, adoring, unconditionally self-sacrificing subjects of a king in our earthly lives. Few of us learn to be that kind of subject in the kingdom of God in our spiritual living. I think of one man in biblical history who approached that in the kingdom of David. Uriah was his name, meaning “My light is the Lord.” King David, desperately trying to cover up his adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife, ordered him to return from battle and enticed him to take a break with his wife, hoping to attribute her pregnancy to Uriah, her husband. Although he was a member of David’s royal guard, he demonstrated boldness in resisting the king’s orders in deference to his higher principles: “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”(2 Samuel 11:11). Uriah, remarkably, didn’t follow even the king’s orders or invitations. Although King David was described as “a man of God’s heart,” he still ordered Uriah’s death. Even in such a theocentric, God-guided kingdom, murder was done in the name of the king.

Only Christ, descended from that very line of kings, showed us what it means to be a subject of the kingdom of God. He never provided us a Bill of Rights. He did offer us the supreme entitlement, forgiveness of sin and union with Him forever. He offers graces, gifts, and unconditional loving. That’s partly why it’s illogical or meaningless to those “not of my kingdom” to swallow statements like, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a) as opposed to “It’s my body and I can do what I want with it.” When Christians say, “No you can’t” from the perspective of the kingdom of God, people respond with blank stares, smirks or angry, self-righteous arguments.

I don’t blame them, actually, since the notion of kingdom and being a “bonded servant” (voluntarily loving slave) is so foreign and literally “out of this world.” The same with other heavenly kingdom precepts, like we own nothing but are keepers of what is given by the King, including our bodies, spirits, liberty and life itself.

We do need to exercise faith to experience an invisible reality. “Faith is the substance of what we hope for and the certainty of what is yet invisible to the eyes” (Hebrews 11:1). The term “blind faith” is a falsehood. Faith imparts vision and opens the aperture of the soul’s eye allowing light to flood and illuminate it. “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1Thessalonians 5:5). The absence of faith causes blindness and darkness.

Earthly kingdoms throughout history have foreshadowed the heavenly one. For example, there have been centuries of continuous reigns of dynasties in ancient China that were marked by peace and prosperity. (Part of the purpose of building the Great Wall was to keep it that way.) But no matter how noble, wise and compassionate the emperor or king, the people still engaged in crime, violence and hatred. So what would bring the kingdom to heavenly perfection?

First, the king must be perfect in all ways. If every single person under his reign was a true subject, being unconditionally loyal, devoted and in loving service to the king, all else would fall into place. That submission to the king would foster an inviolable bond between them and define their relationship and behavior to each other.

Thus we see the enlightenment of the Greatest Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This is not for God’s benefit, as He is perfectly complete and in need of nothing. If through some involuntary transformation, every human on earth were to begin living that kind of love at the stroke of midnight tonight, those of us asleep would awaken to heaven on earth. The morning news broadcasts and newspapers would have only wondrous, joyful praises for our King and stories of truly loving behaviors by people in His name. Imagine that.

As prophetically promised, that day will come. Meanwhile, the transformation continues, incrementally, day by day, person by person. Jesus declared, “The kingdom of heaven is within you, in your midst.” And what is the motivation to pursue and enter such a kingdom? Not the dread of eternal hell fire or some desperate, egotistical endeavor to make oneself immortal. Rather, the submissive, self-denying love for our King.

So what form of government does our God bless? Did not the Christ instruct us to pray, “Your kingdom come”?
 

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
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