Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Importance of Government - Part II

Human beings are born immediately into the one of the most, if not the most, effective form of government at birth. A father and mother bring a child into the world and immediately begin to nurture and teach a child in the way he or she should go. There's no questioning that a baby needs its parents. Without that care, an infant would surely die. As the child gets older, that toddler looks up to his parents as his natural leader. After all, they've always been there for him and they have always taken care of him. They have fed, clothed, taught, cuddled and loved their offspring and now they begin forming boundaries and rules as he needs them. That child is expected to follow the rules. Punishments or rewards are handed out as needed if those rules are broken or kept. Over time, the child begins to learn the reasons why those rules are in place and begins to think broadly about their applications in other aspects of his life.

Roles are in place even at the parental level. The father should be the leader of the family, yet taking into consideration the good of the whole family, not just his own desires. Husbands submit to various forms of leadership in their life, too, including God the Father and Jesus Christ. He should love every member of his family and gives guidance and instruction to them all while imparting a sound mind because he rules with fairness and consistency. The mother should the nurturing side of this team, submitting faithfully to her husband while loving him and building him up, yet she is able to run the family when he is away. Parents should also know their roles and be comfortable in them to provide stability for their children.

Throughout the whole process, the parents are living according to a higher purpose in their lives. They are submitting to their Father in the same way their son or daughter is submitting to them. They still require nurturing, teaching, love and correction even as adults. God created the family as a version in miniature of His government in His coming Kingdom. Good parents will accept their place as God's children and raise their children with that same understanding. If they truly love their children, parents will hand down God's instructions to their children as well as teach them God's awesome purpose for all of mankind.

Parents establish rules for their children as they grow old enough to obey. Why? One reason is for our benefit. "Don't touch the hot stove", "get to bed", "do your homework", "say thank you" are all things we have heard growing up. Parents don't want their children hurt, exhausted, stupid or inconsiderate. On top of this, boundaries make us feel safer. Dr. Fall stated in his booklet and articles on parenting that not having rules is comparable to crossing the Golden Gate bridge without barriers. It would be a lot more stressful knowing that you could easily fall several hundred feet into the bay just by a simple steering mistake! Similarly, kids that don't have rules in place and have them reinforced are far more stressed out. They have far more problems with learning, playing with others, sharing, building relationships, etc. if they didn't have proper boundaries as children. Likewise, as rules are made by parents, they aren't meant to be questioned. "You'll do it because I told you to!" If your child is headed toward the street and a car is barreling down towards him, there is no time to explain the situation to them. You will simply yell his name and hope his upbringing taught him to turn around and listen. We should learn and teach obedience first... we will gain understanding later, generally by doing an act repeatedly in obedient trust. If the child listens and stops, he will see the speeding car whiz by and will learn a valuable lesson: don't play near the street. He will continue to confirm another lesson without knowing it: listen to your parents; they know what they're talking about. As children listen more, they grow in understanding, wisdom, common sense, knowledge, respect, and many other things simply by doing what they are told! Many parents expect their children to follow them "as long as you're under MY roof!"

Similarly, God has laws and rules for us to follow. By design, He created and modeled the family after His government. Similarly, His laws and commandments are for our good, for our learning, and for our growth. Our parents are human and sometimes make mistakes, but God never does. Likewise, we become older and more independent in our thinking and actions, so once we leave our parents' "roof" we tend to look after ourselves. However, as begotten children of God, we are not full-born sons of God just yet, so we will always depend on Him in this human life. By following God's rules and laws, we learn obedience and respect. Just as He predicts in the Bible over and over again, to paraphrase, "Follow Me and you will prosper. However, if you don't, you'll be punished and will fail." As we follow God, we see blessings. This proves to us that God is a Being of His word! It builds greater faith that He can and will do all that He says He will. If we refuse to follow Him, eventually, we will suffer as a result. This reinforces the exact same principle. It makes us see just how small we are and how just and wise He is. Humility, faith, mercy, love and justice come from God.

God is a perfect parent and perfectly fair. He tells us in advance what He expects us to do and what He will do through His Bible, His prophets, apostles and His Church. His rules are perfect and are meant to be followed. This is the Law for His government! He instructs us to live His way for the same reasons our parents do: for our benefit, learning, growth and education as well as to build solid relationships and contentment. Yet He teaches us for one more major purpose that our parents can't: to be in His Kingdom!

God created His Church in order to bring these things to pass! We are His children and He treats us better than we would treat our own bodies and selves. The Bible tells us to think of God's Church as the body of Christ with the stated purpose of preparing for His Kingdom. So let's analyze what the human body does... The body is composed of many parts, each with its own purpose. However, they are all put together working as a team for the overall purpose stated above. The eye and the mind and the foot and the hand and the heart all have different purposes, but if they are all trained on the same goal, that goal can be achieved far easier than if they are all doing different things. Playing basketball, for example, would be more difficult if the heart were at a resting rate, which wouldn't supply the rest of the cells in the body with enough oxygen. If the hand were at rest, you couldn't shoot. If the foot didn't move, you couldn't get to the basket. If the eye isn't looking at the basket or the opposition, it can't tell the mind what it sees. Then the mind can't tell the foot which direction to travel or how fast the heart should be beating, or the hand to shoot!

But even if the body is working in harmony, none of this can happen if the body starves to death. So we eat and drink spiritual food for growth while we are alive. We each must individually overcome. However, because we are individually human, we do get old and die knowing that God can individually resurrect us to be in His Kingdom. However, the Church as a whole does not die, God says so! How does the human body replenish itself? By taking food, water and air, elements of the outside world, and processing them so they become part of the body! Just as each cell in the body is replenished by the body (feeding the flock), we must also be used by God to preach and baptize people from the outside world to keep the Body of Christ alive with those whom God is calling. And if a cell or part in the body dies or no longer produces fruit, the body disposes of it. Otherwise, that part can become a cancer and damage the whole body. So must the Church be replenished by new members, feed its existing ones good food, and resolve issues that arise, first and foremost by counsel and correction, and on the rare occasion by disfellowshipping a member. The body of Christ is capable of growing, healing itself and getting rid of destructive elements.

Christ's Body does as Christ Himself did when he was alive as a man. His work was to do the will of His Father, so must we. Christ built up His Church by training men and women in His way. He taught the commandments of God. He preached the gospel to those places around Him and instructed the apostles and 70 others directly to preach to the world. Those apostles appointed evangelists like Timothy, Titus and Phillip to build new up the church in various areas by preaching to the public and appointed elders and deacons in those places to keep them going. Elders administered and taught each church while deacons served the widows, orphans and elderly in each area. The same applies today. When God set up the old covenant over Israel including the priesthood and temple worship, that same priesthood and temple worship was instituted after Judah returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. Likewise, we follow the same form of government today that Jesus set up in the new covenant apostolic times.

What is our attitude towards God's government and His people? I was speaking with Mr. Millich the other day, and he said that our attitude towards government should be one that desires to follow what God commands. Had God told us to feed His sheep through anarchy, we should do so. He did not. Had God said to preach the gospel through democracy, we should do so. However, He did not. He gave us this form of government with established roles, rules and order, similar to the family structure, so our attitude should be to follow God's instruction. When men don't follow God, as stated above, they fail. In the same right, men in leadership positions that don't follow God will also fail, but they unfortunately lead lead the Church astray. Both are deceived and fall into the ditch. Just as "one man" government in Worldwide failed because of errant men, so will the democracies, anarchies and militaristic forms of government ran by errant men today will fail. Do we see the difference between errant systems and errant men? Sometimes there are both and sometimes it's only one. However, those imperfect leaders who try to lead by God's government are still down the pecking order from Jesus Christ who is the Head! It wasn't the Church that failed in the apostacies that have occurred to the Church from Paul's time to ours, it was the men that failed. God's government did not fail, it was the men who led the Church astray. But notice, God always righted His ship! How do you know? The Church is still here.

In the same way, God is in charge of His ministry and leaders. The Bible states that God appoints and overthrows kings and rulers of nations regularly. Men who place themselves over nations, God tears down. He used Pharaoh's and Nebuchadnezzar's own attitude to carry out His will. Even the apostles and prophets weren't perfect, but God used them powerfully! What makes us think that God isn't doing the same with His ministry? When a man falters, God uses that failure to teach him, us and anybody else watching that only HIS way works. God used Israel in this same way as an example when they were a success (as under Solomon) and as a witness against them (as in the captivities, see Jeremiah 22:8-9).

So we should trust God's choices for the ministry over us. God will remove men from power that totally abuse it. He will remove men from power that take it for themselves. Maybe not on our timeline, but He will. Yes, on occasion God may give us the choice to leave a corrupted or deceived group of people and try to relocate where God's people are, but only when a complete and total removal of the Truth has taken place in the current organization, not for some lesser transgression. And when locating, not choosing, God's Church, we should look towards God's government to determine where He has placed His name, both on the style of government and which individual is at the top. Did that man make himself a leader, or did God (and by extension, God's Church) choose him to be in that position? We do not choose our parents and God does not allow us to build Him an alternate church! If a parent fails us, we can't just get rid of them. When an elder or evangelist fails us, do we pray to God to help him? Do we pray that God's will be done, not our own? Do we hope that leaders will succeed or do we errantly desire that they will be rebuked by God because they trespassed against us?

How do we apply God's form of government in our own lives? We have all heard of servant leadership. A good father shepherds his family as he leads it. It is true that God places men in various roles to be in charge over aspects of His Church. However, there are times where various other roles may need to be heeded under certain circumstances. For example, I like to think of the parking attendants at some of the larger Feast sites. If a teenager has an orange vest on and a flashlight waving people to their various spots and a minister drives up to him, who has the right to decide where that minister parks? God's government gave that young man the role to organize the parking lot. It's a role he's been given. A humble, teachable minister practicing God's governmental style will heed that attendant's instructions. God even used 3 young boys to teach a king about God's power in Daniel 3. Know the roles that God has set up and obey the role and office as they apply to you. Likewise, we should seek advice from those wisest on a subject. On financial matters, a master businessman. On family matters, your parents or a successful family. On church matters, a minister.

Ephesians 4 tells us that the very purpose of God's leading roles in His Church are for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry and edifying of God's people. They have a special purpose to correct, counsel and edify us to perfection. They have been given an extra measure of Holy Spirit to do this. Do they apply everything in the Bible perfectly? No... Do we agree with God's governmental correction up to the where it begins to point out our flaws and shortcomings? Is it then too personal? Was a minister too harsh in the way they approached you? People leave the Church over this! It is vital that we think about this! Just like a good father and mother, God is looking out for all of our best interest and wants to see how we handle unjust judgment, too. There are many scriptures that discuss correction and rebuke, especially in the Proverbs... Matthew 18 doesn't just discuss correction from the ministry, but from all our brethren! Do we allow our brother or sister in Christ to righteously apply God's law to help us go on to godly perfection?

Just as we should have a loving family relationship, we need to be edifying, praying and rooting for all of God's people, including His chosen leaders, to succeed. We need to ask God to help His called-out people to teach this world His ways as a witness to them. Only God calls, but He can use our witness to aid in that calling. Is that our desire? To be fully yielded to God so He can use us any way He wants? Even Pharaoh might look back at how God used him in exhalting Israel, God's people, and be glad that he was used for such a special purpose. Let us each be glad that God has called us into His Church in order to use our talents and personalities in the way that HE chooses, for HIS purpose in HIS government! In the end, the whole world will ALL win as a result. THAT, my friends, is the importance of government.

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