Living under God’s government
There’s a higher government at work in the world than the eye can see.
“I fear for my country,” a neighbor lamented. She was upset with elected officials. She was angry about enacted policies. She saw a divided country, a divided electorate, and no hope of opposing political parties ever working together. She was depressed and discouraged.
I told her that I find comfort in knowing that there’s a higher government at work in the world than the eye can see. As the Bible declares, “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us” (Isaiah 33:22).
Human rulers come and go. Officials are replaced. Dynasties end. But divine Principle, God, reigns and rules forever. If concerned about temporal government policies and leaders, we can appeal to the supreme law of this Principle and trust its power to uphold equity and justice. When understood, God’s reign and rule can save us from the shortcomings of human government.
If concerned about temporal government policies and leaders, we can appeal to the supreme law of divine Principle.
Christ Jesus understood the preeminence of God’s government over human government. When his followers learned that he was the promised Messiah, they assumed he would deliver them from the rule of the Roman Empire. In their view, the Romans were public enemy number one. The oppression and tyranny they experienced under Roman law were severe. But Jesus saw differently. He did not see the Romans or any human ruler or government official as the leading cause of public suffering. Public enemy number one for Jesus was sin. He came to save us from sin.
Sin is evil thinking and acting. It is selfishness, greed, lust for power, and any other attitude or outlook that leads to chaos, conflict, and suffering. Sin is behind so much human suffering. Jesus focused his reformatory efforts not on removing from public office officials, who could be quickly replaced by like-minded individuals, but on eliminating sin—the root cause of the suffering resulting from bad governance.
Jesus conquered sin to demonstrate man’s dominion over it, and he did this by living the government of God—the reign and rule of Life, Truth, and Love. He honored God as the supreme power and bowed to no other. He conquered hate with love, selfishness with compassion, disease with health, and death with life. He did not fear for the future, cave to despair or disappointment, or imagine dark and depressing scenarios. Because he understood God’s absolute control, he faced all forms of evil fearlessly and overcame them through the might of divine Truth and Love. He knew that evil is a lie, with no truth to back it up (see John 8:44). He understood God as the supreme ruler having the final say in all matters.
If ever tempted to think efforts to improve government are futile, we can look to the life of Jesus for hope. Jesus did not run for political office or seek worldly position to gain influence over the affairs of mankind. Yet, his example has wielded enormous influence for more than two thousand years through the lives of people who have adopted his Christian teachings and put them into practice in the political, social, religious, and economic sectors of society.
Jesus’ admonitions to love our neighbor as ourself and his explanations of how to do so have guided the decision-making of countless people in every aspect of their daily lives. When we follow Jesus’ example of honoring one God and living unselfishly, we can trust that, regardless of our worldly standing, the morality and spirituality we demonstrate ripples out into local, national, and even global government, to good effect. The government of God lived by one person helps others experience the same.
Yes, billions of people suffer under repressive governments, which often appear formidable. But humanity is not helpless. The evil behind authoritarianism and tyranny is doomed. As God’s government is understood and demonstrated by individuals who care, the hatred, greed, and selfishness perpetuating evil leadership dissolve, and leaders reform, or new leaders with improved ideals take their place. Justice prevails.
Jesus was not afraid of human rulers because he understood God to rule above all human authority. To the Roman governor Pilate, who threatened, “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” Jesus replied, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above” (John 19:10, 11, New Living Translation). It looked like Pilate had the upper hand when he turned Jesus over to the authorities, who soon crucified him, but Jesus knew that the one God had almighty power. He did not fear Pilate. He walked out of the tomb alive three days later, proving the emptiness of Pilate’s threat. Understanding the supremacy of God’s government enabled Jesus to transcend threats coming from human government. He proved that the bad decisions of such rulers could not stop the higher reign of God’s government from acting in his life. God’s government had the final say.
We can improve the world we live in by conquering the sinful temptation to believe in a power other than God.
We can follow Jesus’ example today. Rather than complain, despair at, or fear actions taken by government officials, we can improve the world we live in by conquering the sinful temptation to believe in a power other than God. We can live God’s government of Life, Truth, and Love. We can check our thinking and ensure that we are not being used by sin in our evaluation of public officials and government leaders. We might ask, “Am I demonstrating in my own life the fairness, integrity, and respect I pray to see in government? Am I demonstrating the all-inclusive love that builds bridges, finds common ground, and forms healthy relationships with neighbors?”
The Sermon on the Mount, including the Golden Rule, and the Ten Commandments give strong guidance for how to live true to God’s government. Jesus’ sermon teaches the qualities that conquer pride, ego, selfishness, and hate. The Commandments remind us to honor one God and to live honest, grateful, wholesome lives that keep us safe from sin. The moral and spiritual ideals of these instructions destroy sin and bring out the harmony, order, and peace of God at work. They are God’s government in action.
Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The Christian Scientist has enlisted to lessen evil, disease, and death; and he will overcome them by understanding their nothingness and the allness of God, or good” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 450). Every time we conquer sin through an understanding of God’s allness and goodness, we are helping our community do the same. We help everyone experience more of God’s government and less of evil’s claim to power.
Rather than stand on the sidelines and point fingers of blame at officials and leaders in government, we can contribute to good government by living true to high moral and spiritual standards. We can be the good government we hope and pray to see around us. We can demonstrate God’s government at work and help our neighbor find the same.