Is the Law of the Land Our Protector?
NCW 16, February 1995
Q. To what extent can we rely on the laws of the land we live in to protect us?
We can rely on the laws of the to protect Christians so long as those laws comply with current government policy. And no more. And since governments and laws change, we are about as safe as the fickle minds and hearts of the men and women who govern us. The law of the land always claims to be just but this will only be so if it is politically expedient.
I would strongly recommend against Christians relying on the law of the land for their safety, at least in any absolute sense. Generally-speaking, in most of the lands we live in, if they are true democracies, we are protected. But that protection is no guarantee. It can be removed instantly. For 70 years Christians were persecuted by the law in the Soviet Union. In a day they were protected by it. The reverse can and does happen.
To be wise, we should take a look at Jesus's relationship to the law, and in particular as He sought refuge and comfort from different sources in His last days. Firstly, He turned to His Heavenly Father in Gethsemane, petitioning to have the burden of the Cross taken away. His request was not granted. He then turns to His friends. They are asleep. He then faces the Jewish Church -- the Church which He created. It condemns Him. Finally, He turns to the State, the Roman State, which has far lower pretensions than the Jewish Church and is free of its fanaticisms. Rome claimed to be just -- on a worldly level. But in reality, Jesus was a counter in a complicated political balancing game. Pilate wanted to absolve Jesus, but there was the danger of a Jewish riot. Finally, Jesus' last appeal is to the ordinary man and woman in the street -- those whom He had blessed, healed, taught and fed, His own race. But over night they have become a murderous rabble shouting for His blood.
Let us learn from history where we should put our security. There is only one secure place, and that is God. People, State, Church, and friends are fallible and can all turn against the truth. The country and its laws which are protecting you today can, and will, persecute you tomorrow, if it is politically expedient for the rulers. And their motives are varied -- because they feel threatened, because they want more votes, or whatever. Be under no illusions. Be prepared. It is for this, and other reasons, that we do not engage in politics, for politics is of the world, and Jesus repudiated the world system. The law of a land exists as a temporary protector, and whilst it does so, we should sustain it, not just for our own protection, but for the protection of all honourable people. We should pray for our governments that they may be blessed to enact righteous laws. No worldly government is perfect but it is far better than anarchy.
This page was created on 1 May 1998
Last updated on 1 May 1998
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