It is well-known that the majority of Christians actively support the government at the ballot box and its involvement in wars. Christians everywhere serve their country as jurors, judges, executioners, jailers, prison guards, policemen, soldiers, and politicians, in defiance of Christ’s command to “resist not an evil person.” Matthew 5:39
From the perspective of the world it is not unreasonable that these individuals should feel it their duty to serve, and even suffer hardships and imperil life and limb in the country’s defense, and to feel a tortured jealousy toward those who do not serve, yet enjoy the protection and benefits of the government.
We can learn a lesson from the Old Testament if we will listen to Samuel. All of the Old Testament is witness to the facts and misfortunes of the Jewish people due to their incessant desire to possess what the world offered other nations. Samuel, in his first book, 8 and 12, told the people, that in addition to all the other sins they had committed, they had now added to them the sin of rejecting God in favor of a man. They falsely imagined that Saul could save them, and give them what God could, or would, not. Samuel’s response in 12:21 was “Do not believe in vain things, they cannot help you or save you, they are, vain––empty things.” Most modern translations render the Hebrew word תֹּ֫הוּ, pronounced tohu (to’-hoo) as “idol” which is confusing to the English reader. When he reads “ Do not turn away after useless idols,” as the NIV and Living Bibles translate the word we imagine a golden calf or other such things we generally associate with the word. The word idol literally means vain or useless things. The King James and English Standard versions translate the word more accurately as “And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.” “ And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” What Samuel is saying is this, “If you turn away from God as your King and elect a man as your leader you have elected to have a useless thing rule over you, and therefore have no recourse to the benefits of the Living God.” Samuel then tells them that although they have done these stupid things, that if, they will, even now, turn back to God, and Him only, they will not perish.
The message of Samuel speaks to the very heart of the problems Christians are facing today. Because they say with their mouth, “I am a Christian,” when their deeds are nowhere to be found, they have put their faith in “vain things,” that cannot save them. They have the vain illusion that the government will deliver to them the peace and happiness they so desire. This illusion is a veil that hides the truth from weak Christians who don’t have the strength to reject it because they are made weak by the teaching they receive from the Church. Many new Christians read the Bible and gain strength when they read Christ’s words that His “yoke is easy and burden light” then they listen to their pastors and teachers tell them that no one can keep the Christ life, that it is an impossible task, and they become weak. They are told that along with the Christ life must be added good laws and good government and that we should elect good people to rule over us. Not only that, but we are told that the Bible sanctions Christians to serve as good jurors, good jailers, good executioners, good policemen, and good soldiers, and that we should cast our lot in with those who want “Saul” to rule over us, and that this is not “A vain thing” because all Christians everywhere are doing it, and that it is the only way to produce the results that the whole world wants. Samuel’s voice still resonates down through history, “That you may not perish, even now, turn to God.”
Christians have been led to believe that there is some sort of dual citizenship that exist. They think they can serve the kingdom of this world and also serve the Kingdom of God; it is a lie; you must choose who you will serve. Joshua demanded of the Jewish people the same choice and he pressed them to, “Choose you this day who you will serve; as for me and my family we will serve the Lord.” We cannot partition our lives into tidy compartments of secular and religious, we are either all-in or not-in-at-all. I might say to myself, “Okay, I will turn the other cheek and I will give a little to the beggar in obedience to Christ; but what if that beggar breaks into my house; or what if an enemy invades our borders; what am I to do?” “Surely Jesus does not expect us to turn the other cheek or forgive our enemy in such circumstances.” Am I to go to war, to judge, and exact vengeance? My private life has become entangled with my life in general and the whole fabric of my life is now composed of religion and state, which is now demanding of me an un-Christian thing in contradiction to the commands of Christ. The dilemma confronts every Christian. We are imposed upon to take up the weapons of murder and either kill or at least participate in some way to keep the machinery of state operating and our borders safe either manufacturing munitions or just waving the flag. Every Christian is obliged to show up for jury duty when called and to participate in judging his neighbor, bringing to trial, and punishing him, i.e. he must put aside Christ’s law of love, mercy, and forgiveness, and enforce the law of Moses, an eye for an eye. The legal system was designed for no other reason than to return evil for evil, and Christians with their actual deeds commit hypocritical acts contrary to their confession to be followers of Jesus, who Himself lived the non-resistant life, and forgave all, even His murderers, and the Apostles did likewise.
The ultimate question then is this, who will we serve, tohu (to’-hoo), “vain things” that cannot save, or will we serve the living God, who alone can save and deliver. If we throw our lot in with the government and depend on the arm of man to save us; if government then circles the wagons and sets up a perimeter of safety as we wanted, with its legislature to make laws and its military and police force to enforce those laws, with our consent, and they then require your services you are obligated to serve, to judge, condemn, and kill, or to support those who do these things, you are no better than the Israelites who chose to serve “vain things” and not God.
Who will you serve? Will you seek out “good men” to serve as proxies for you and decide in your stead what you should do? Or, will you turn to the Living God and worship and serve Him only, who alone can save and deliver. Remember the measure you use is the same measure that will be used; if you judge and do not forgive you will be cutoff from your salvation. Is this really what you want?