30. Subjection to Authorities
Although Christ’s true followers live in
the world, they should not be “worldly” people. Just before his
crucifixion the Lord Jesus prayed for his disciples in these
“They are not of the world, even as I am
not of the world. I do not pray that thou shouldest take them out of the world,
but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even
as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16).
Similarly, Peter speaks of the followers of
Christ as being “aliens and exiles... among the Gentiles” (1 Peter
There should be a noticeable difference between
Christians and other people. The true Christian is an honest, unselfish,
God-fearing person, who does not strive to be more rich or powerful than other
men. Because he has separated himself from this present evil world, he refuses
to become involved in the sinful practices of the world. Refusing to fight is
only a part of the difference between him and other men. If a man who claims to
be a Christian refuses to fight, but is worldly and sinful in other respects, he
is a hypocrite. The true Christian does not look for great reward or prosperity
now. For him, the times of the Gentiles are a period of preparation. A full
blessing comes only with the return of Christ and the establishment of his
Various Bible passages tell us that followers of
Christ must be altogether different from the people of the world around
“Do not be conformed to this world, but
be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will
of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom.
“Do not love the world or the things in
the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 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” (1 John
Although the followers of the Lord Jesus are not
of the world, and although they refuse to fight to defend themselves or their
country, it would be a great mistake to think of them as troublesome people.
Those who obey the commandments of Christ are the most law-abiding of men. In
obedience to their Lord, they do not kill or hurt people, not even in
self-defense; they do not commit adultery, steal, or lie. Police forces, law
courts and prisons could all be done away with if all men were sincere
Christians. The nations would no longer need to spend vast sums of money for the
prevention and punishment of crime, and people everywhere would feel more secure
and at peace.
Because most people refuse to follow Christ
wholeheartedly, we cannot expect these happy conditions until the Kingdom of God
comes. But even now, those in authority never have trouble with the true
followers of Christ, even in countries where there is a great deal of crime.
Real Christians are the most trustworthy of citizens.
There is another reason why Christians should be
good citizens. It is because they have been instructed by their Master to obey
the rulers of their country — who are, of course, whether basically good
or basically evil, ordained by God (Rom. 13:1-5). Thus the authorities are His
“servants”, though usually they are unaware of this fact. This means
that when a believer disobeys the rulers of his country, he is really disobeying
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers
and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for any honest work, to speak evil
of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy
toward all men” (Titus 3:1,2).
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to
every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to
governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong.... Live as free men, yet
without using your freedom as a pretext for evil: but live as servants of God.
Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter