Government of God

The primary government to which we all must give account is the Government of God in our lives. But before you get all religious on me and think of that simply as some kind of stuffy or sentimental notion suited to church liturgy, let me assure you that I am talking about real administrative government over people’s lives.

The Government of God is not a religious construct created by bishops and popes to assert their control, but a primary level of government to which all people in every generation must give attention.

When God Governs

Most people have a dualistic notion of reality. They subscribe to various religious concepts, but see them only as notions or religious beliefs. When it comes to practicalities they have a completely different sense of reality.

Most religious people would admit that God is supreme over all, as a religious concept. But when it comes to the practicalities of who is in control, God doesn’t get another thought. This dualism decimates the real substance and authority of people’s lives. They live in a state of contradiction and compromise.

If God only governs in some notional sense then He does not govern at all. If God’s government cannot be seen in practical reality then it is only an empty concept and should not be subscribed to, even by the religious. It would be delusional and vain.

However, God does rule in the affairs of men and God has prescribed a form a government that is to be practically applied on the earth. That government is the government of God in the earth.

Application of God’s Government

In future posts I will explore some expressions of and implications of God’s government. Initial issues to consider include deism versus theism, God’s hierarchical order of authority and the role of personal conscience. I will not cover these in detail here, but wish to focus your attention on the reality of God’s government over your life and how that might be expressed in your experience.

Deism versus Theism

Those who acknowledge God can be relegated to two different perceptions of God’s government of man, relating to the level of intervention which God will exercise in the affairs of men.

Deists are those who believe in the existence of God but who do not expect Him to interfere in the lives and circumstances of humans. They conceive of God as an observer of that which He created and set in motion. Deists see that human history is in the hands of human will and that God will not intervene unless things become very drastic, as with Noah’s flood or Sodom’s sin.

Theists, on the other hand, believe that God not only initiated all things, but remains actively interested in and ready to intervene in human affairs. Theists recognise man’s place in responding to God and calling upon God’s power and they pray with expectancy to a God they know will hear and respond.

God’s Active Government

By the definitions explained above, I am a theist. I live my life with expectancy of God’s active intervention, and calling on God to direct that intervention according to my prayers.

I believe in God’s active government within the affairs of men. Men can conceive and plan what they will, but God has more than the power of veto. God has a pre-emptive will and dynamic foreknowledge, empowering Him to engage with the issues of human existence in a proactive and powerful way.

It is this divine activity that gives zest and substance to God’s prescribed government. His own active engagement gives power to His instructions and His expectations from man.

God’s Prescription of Government

The Bible provides the basis of all human government, developed by His divine guidance from the time of Noah. A complete study of the role of government as God designed it is a worthy investigation, found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

The particular prescription of God’s government that I want to focus here is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. Paul laid out an authority structure in which man is under Christ, who is under God, with the wife under the authority of her husband.

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Apostle Paul, 1Corinthians 11:3

God’s Hierarchy

Note the significances of this verse. God’s notion of government and authority is hierarchical. A person under authority is given authority over others.

In a day when the flat organization is being popularised and everyone wants to minimise their responsibility to be under authority it is worth noting that God, Himself, operates within an hierarchical construct of government. Government is not a matter of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.

Note also that mankind is meant to be directly under the authority of God, through Christ. Civil government is not described in this hierarchy. Civil government is, by God’s design, a servant to God and man, not an imposition over the responsibility and authority of mankind. Civil government is not interposed between God and man, nor does it absolve man of responsibility.

Note also that the core unit of social structure, the home, is an expression of the government of God. A husband being responsible for his wife and a wife submitting to her husband is at the heart of divine government on the earth.

Modern Government

Today there are various forces competing for rulership over the lives of men. Governments, big business and social engineers are among those who wish for mankind to comply with their plans.

International law now imposes itself over sovereign nations. At the domestic level children defy the will of their parents and wives assert their independence of the husband’s headship. So government is in an interesting state in homes, communities, churches and nations.

The best way to navigate through the uncertainties and competing claims on the lives of men and women is to submit to the government of God.

Ruled by God or Mammon

What I address here might be a revolutionary eye-opener to you. I trust it opens the Bible to you in a fresh way. Many Bible truths take on a completely new complexion when considered in a fresh context. My post about the Bible being a Book of Books hinted at some of the possibilities that open to us when we see the Bible in a fresh context and with sharper application. To help me get where I want to go, allow me to present a few basic premises from which to work.

You Are Ruled

Whether you like the idea or not your whole life is being ruled by someone other than yourself. Obviously you have a high level of personal autonomy within the bounds set by your sovereign, but you are ruled none-the-less.

You are either ruled by truth or deception; confidence or fear; love or hate; and so on. But for the purposes of this discussion you are either ruled by God or Mammon.

God or Mammon

The Bible affirms that you are ruled and identifies the two masters who you can choose between. They are God and Mammon.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:24

In the original language the meaning could be taken to be, “No person has the power to serve two lords…. You do not have the power to serve God and the power of wealth.”

Note that the Old Testament prophets warned Israel about worshiping such gods as Baal and Ashtaroth. When Jesus came He did not speak of these gods, but embodied all other competitors to Almighty God under the title of Mammon.

You Are Ruled by the One you Serve

Another way of understanding what Jesus taught is that you are “ruled” by the one you serve. The Apostle Paul said that we are enslaved to the thing we serve.

“Don’t you know that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 6:16

So you are ruled either by God or by Mammon.

What is Mammon?

Since there is a 50:50 chance you are ruled by Mammon it might be good to know what it is. Mammon is a Chaldean word. It is a word that came from the heathen people around the nation of Israel. It apparently refers to a deity and the root meaning of the word is: “confidence”; “wealth personified”; and “avarice” (which is greed).

What Mammon refers to, when opposed to the person of God, is the power of wealth.

Time to Reflect

Take a moment to ponder the following question. If everyone in the world is either ruled by God or Wealth, what would be the indicators to identify each one?

How would you tell if someone was ruled by God? How would you tell if someone was ruled by money?

And to take the reflection further, does the evidence suggest that you are ruled by God or Money? What about your family, community and culture? Which deity is ruling over them?

Simplifications

I love to simplify things so they are easy to understand, easy to remember and easy to teach. While simplifications involve reductionism which can remove key information from the topic, they do allow an easy grasp and a ready starting point for further investigation. So allow me to make some simple observations.

The simplified point I have already made is that you are either ruled by God or Money. The next observation is that God’s rule demands that we live for others. Consider these instructions from God to love others and to do to others what you want them to do to you.

“You are to love your neighbour as yourself” Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31

“A new commandment I give you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

“Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Mammon stands contrary to God’s standards and involves people living for self and personal gain. This causes people to live in pride, directed by their greed and lusts.

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1John 2:16

Reflecting Again

So do you live for self or for others? Does your family and culture promote selflessness or self-gratification?

If the focus is on self, then Mammon is the master. If the focus is on selflessness, living to be a blessing to others, then God is the master.

It’s time you made sure you are in the right kingdom. Repent of self interest and self serving attitudes and values. Ask God to transform you until you can live for others and not self.

There’s More

I started out intending to discuss the Bible and its value on political topics. Hmmm. I think I’ve made a pretty good fist of this posting, without getting where I want to go. So I’ll make a point in the near future of picking up the theme of the Bible as a Political Text.