It seems to be a general rule that when people like their classes or their careers, they have good teachers or bosses; and when they don't, they have ineffective teachers or bosses. This tends to be true for local and world governments as well. There are exceptions to the rule, of course. But in general, those in charge have a significant impact on the happiness or well-being of others. On the flip side, people tend to blame (rightly or wrongly) their teachers, bosses, local and/or world-wide government officials if they don't like their situation, feel miserable, have bad things happen to them, or see others treated poorly. Sometimes the fault does indeed lie with those in charge. But sometimes they're not to blame, and the problem really lies within ourselves or in our perception of the situation. Sometimes there are definite actions we can take to resolve problems. Other times there's nothing we can do humanly to make things better, and we feel rather hopeless, bitter, frustrated, or powerless.
The underlying issue here seems to be our concept of government.
- Who do we believe is in control of government, and who is in control?
- What do we do when government is bad?
- What's our responsibility?
- How can we impact government?
Who's in control? God is.
The Bible tells us:
The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. (Ps. 93:1, 2)
Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. (I Chron. 29:11)
Understanding this is so important. Rather than think that a person (either ourselves or others) is in control, we acknowledge that God is in control. He has created and established every detail of His kingdom, which He governs. What a great relief it is to know this! We can place our government and every aspect of our lives -- from how to study for a test to how to negotiate a peace treaty -- confidently in God's hands. Why can we trust God's government? Just look at the nature of His kingdom and what He does for His people:
- "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
- The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.
- The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.
- Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
- The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
- The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
- He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them" (Ps. 145:14-19).
It's pretty amazing. God's kingdom is "everlasting." As our governor, our ruler, God meets all of our needs. In addition to founding a "righteous" and just government, God cares for us, has compassion on us, and is there for us at all times. No human ruler, person in authority, or governmental organization can even claim to do what God does for His children. God's knowledge is limitless, and He governs with infinite wisdom.
So, what do we do when there's something wrong with the government of a situation, organization, nation, family, classroom, etc.?
- We turn the government of the situation, the people, the organization over to God.
- We also need to get very honest with ourselves and see if the problem lies with our perception of the situation or with the situation itself. As we change our perception of a situation, the situation itself often changes. So, we can ask ourselves:
- Is there something we can do to make things better?
- Can we respond differently?
- Can we stop complaining, start complimenting, and start taking on more responsibility?
- Have we expressed gratitude for the good that's already there?
- And if we've changed our perception and actions and nothing has improved, then we have the opportunity to get closer to God and listen for His guidance as to what thoughts to think and what actions to take.
- It's helpful to know that God is Truth. By its very nature, truth uncovers lies. So, whatever needs to be uncovered can be uncovered. Whatever needs to be changed will be changed. We read in the Bible: "I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him" (Ezek. 21:27).
- Sometimes it may take awhile, as human government is going to have its flaws. But the more we can base our government after God's government, which is truly the law of Love, the better off we'll be.
Often the temptation may be just to give up because nothing seems to be working. But such an apathetic attitude doesn't solve anything. It just creates greater problems. Do we really want to give up our right to think for ourselves or our right to let God-given thoughts fill our consciousnesses? If we really feel driven to give up, let's give up our own personal view of what needs to be fixed and how it needs to be fixed and not abdicate our responsibility as a citizen in God's kingdom.
What is our responsibility in government?
Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in a democracy, republic, or similar type of government know that each person has the opportunity, the right, and the responsibility to vote. There are some people who are denied this opportunity. There are some situations, even within an overall democratic society, in which we don't have a vote. We generally don't get to choose what math problems we learn in school, nor can we go against what our boss tells us to do at work. Nevertheless, we can still apply the concept to our lives.
Our responsibility is to VOTE -- to vote for God's government. It's so important when we vote to know what we're voting for, what we're supporting and denying.
- Are we voting for the idea that we are God's children, always at one with Him, supplied with everything that we need? that Love is supreme? that good really does prevail?
- Or are we supporting (arguing for and believing in) the idea that we are lost children, alone in the world, lacking much? that hatred and bitterness are more powerful than Love? that evil wins in the end, so what we do doesn't matter?
- Are we defending our right to vote, to choose how we want to think about and respond to a situation? to listen to God's view rather than others' opinions or even our own?
- Are we doing the necessary research to make intelligent and informed decisions?
- Have we made the commitment to do the most important research -- to get to know God?
- The more we get to know God, the more we know ourselves, and thus, the better we are able to govern ourselves.
How do we govern ourselves, and what impact does self-government have?
If we can't govern ourselves, how can we contribute effectively to school, community, or global governments? Good government begins at home with ourselves. This is part of our responsibilities as a member of God's kingdom.
The best way to govern ourselves is to be responsive to God's government. We want to respond to God's government rather than react to others. When we react to others or to a situation, we're giving up the government of ourselves to someone or something else. If we don't govern our own emotions, we're letting them govern us, and we lose self-control. As a result, the decisions that we make when we're not thinking clearly will not be good, helpful, or wise decisions.
We read in the Bible,
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls (Prov. 25:28).
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city (Prov. 16:32).
There's a lot of significance placed upon the ability to govern ourselves. It's interesting that it's related to a city. If a city had no walls, enemies could invade it. What would try to invade our lives, destroy our defenses, and take away our right to self-government? Grief, loss, poor grades, family or school problems, indecision, frustration, unemployment? If we give into anger and yell, scream, hit or hurt others, we've lost our self-government. This is just a microcosm of what happens globally. How important it is, then, to build and maintain our mental walls! We do this by listening closely to God's commands and obeying His laws! If we hear thoughts that aren't from God, or if we're tempted to act in ways that aren't beneficial, then those thoughts and actions don't belong inside our walls, and we have the God-given right to vote them down as imposters.
When we are able to govern ourselves, then we are able to be helpful contributors to government. And we can hear Jesus' words echo in our own experience: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matt. 25:21).
One of the greatest benefits of knowing that God governs everyone is the joy that comes from this knowledge, which defeats any sense of fear, worry, or confusion that would argue to the contrary. So, we can rejoice with the chorus of angels: "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Rev. 19:6).