The Bi-Daily has condemned racism. Today, the seat swivels to focus on governmental authority. As you read, please keep in mind that my focus is very narrow in this article. In the event you infer otherwise: I fully support peaceful protests and I am not a pacifist.
Christ’s Authority (Psalm 2)
God anointed David king of Israel (1 Sam 16:13) after Saul proved unrepentant (15:1-23). Psalm 2 expresses David’s great hope in God’s ability to keep His promise. When the kings of the earth take their stand against the Lord and against His Anointed (v.2), David knows that God sits in the heavens and laughs at the petty attempt to thwart the Divine will (v.4). David is God’s son (v.7), installed over His possessions (v.6).
David’s hope hinged on the faithfulness of God, as He promised in 2 Samuel 7:16, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” But if this promise only referred to David, it proved unreliable, right? Because David died, his successor rejected God and Israel split. God must have been pointing to a different kingdom – one built from David’s house (Matt 1:1-17). Christ, a descendant of David, would rule an enduring kingdom!
So Psalm 2 is Messianic as King David is a type of the King of Kings to come. It is foolish to say, “Let us tear [God’s] fetters apart and cast away [God’s] cords from us,” (v.3) when God has already determined Who will rule the universe. The nations, even the ends of the earth, are broken and shattered under the might of Christ the King (vv.8-9). The earth, therefore, should “show discernment,” worshiping Christ with reverence and rejoicing with trembling (vv.10-11).
After His ascension, the Son of Man was given all authority (Matt 28:28). It is His place, as ordained by the Father, to be confessed as Lord (Phil 2:9-11). His jurisdiction is universal. His prerogatives are exhaustive. We, His subjects, have no cause to question or reject His rule.
If all authority belongs to Christ, that means we don’t have to obey people, right?
Christ holds all authority but has delegated His authority, for a time, to certain earthly offices – for the benefit of those under that authority. For example, a parent has authority over his/her child. This authority says nothing about the individual but rather the office. Adults are not intrinsically more valuable than children. But the relationship between parent and child includes the subjection of the child to the parent. This is so by Christ’s delegation: He gives the parent authority over the child, for the child’s benefit (ex. Prov 1:8-9).
Certain authorities are likewise delegated to a husband in the marital relationship (Eph 5:22-31) and a master in the servant relationship (6:6-9).
Of particular interest to 21st century U.S. racial relations is the authority Christ delegates to government. Consider Romans 13: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (v.1). Notice the reason why we should be in subjection. It is not because those governing are worthy of our obedience. Rather, it is because Christ has temporarily established the governing offices in place over us. Their authority does not come from their ability to do their job well. It comes from God.
U.S. law enforcement is an arm of our government and therefore possesses authority delegated by God to rule over us. It should be our normative disposition to obey and cooperate with them. Further, they should be respected and honored – especially by the church.
Paul draws an application in the next verse: “Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” To oppose your government is to oppose God Himself. Civil unrest (i.e. violently resisting your government via riot and slander) is ultimately a temper-tantrum against the ordination of God.
So What is Going On?
Now America’s racial problem does not have to do with the legitimacy of law enforcement, but rather the way in which police are enforcing the law. There are nation-wide reports of tendencies to assume the worst of an African American individual, resulting in oppression and even death at the hands of law enforcement. On the other hand, some have gone so far as to literally wage war against American law enforcement, going beyond peaceful protest and even a basic civil unrest.
So what is going on? What should the local church do? Abdicating to a middle-ground solution would be lazy. But it will take more than a spoonful of sugar to eat this crow.
I’m not quite done with this short series on racism, so I’m not going to answer these questions today. But tomorrow, you’ll see me crawling the housetop, pistol in hand.