Saturday, September 07, 2013

Be obedient, to whom?

A church in central is frequented by the rich and powerful, including many government officials.  The pastor of the church, unsurprisingly, is speaking against the “Occupy Central” movement. He even said that pastors who support the movement should quit as a pastor.  He has spoken in favour of the government repeatedly in the past, so this is no surprise.

Many pro-establishment Christian leaders like to quote certain passages in the Bible which appear to support their stance.  These include: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” [Romans 13:1] “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” [Hebrews 13;17]  “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and leaders and authorities” [Titus 3:1]  “be subject to the elders.” [1 Peter 5:5] “Be subject ... to every human institution,” [1 Peter 2:13]

However, there is another side of the coin. Many of the same Bible passages that speak of submission to authority qualify that authority.  “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” is followed by “... for rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” [Romans 13:3] “Obey your leaders and submit to them” is followed by “... for they are keeping watch over your souls.” [Hebrews 13:17]  “Be subject ... to every human institution,” is followed by “... as sent by him to punish who do evil and to praise those who do good.” [1 Peter 2:13]

So, what do we do with a government who does not keep watch over our souls, do not punish those who do evil, do not praise those who do good, ... but actually does the opposite - suppressing freedom, oppressing the poor and the weak, and protecting the rich and corrupt, ...?

In response to rulers who where commanding them to do what the opposite of what God commands, Peter had this powerful reply: “We must obey God rather than men.” [Acts 5:29]

Jesus Christ himself always aligned with the poor, the sick, and the oppressed.  He did not turn away the rich and powerful, for they also needed the good news that He was preaching.  But he never curried favour from the rich and powerful.

50 years ago, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech at the “March on Washington” civil rights demonstration. If that should happen today in Hong Kong, he probably would have been criticized by our pro-establishment pastors as “disobeying the government.”

It should have been quite clear where Christians should stand.  Sadly, some who should have been leaders of us are choosing to trust in money and earthly power, instead of the almighty God.

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