A Disciple’s Discernment
Scripture Resource Passages: 1 Timothy 2 & Titus 3
On normal, ordinary and regular days, disciples of Jesus are strongly encouraged to fully participate in their nation by living as good citizens. During those days, disciples of Jesus obey laws. Paul brings this instruction to the early churches. Today’s passages appear as general instructions. We know they arrived during times when most churches lived under the dictatorship of Rome. Each encourages surgery-like precision in application.
Awareness: Disciples live on every continent dealing with many different forms of government. Wars and rumors of wars continue. Peace is hard to come by. What may look like a quiet time may actually be a moment before anarchy. Let no disciple rush in applying conclusions from their own context into the lives of others without due regard for the vast difference between life under a demagogue to that of a republic of the governed.
Paul to Timothy as a developing church leader: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus…”(1 Timothy 2:1-5 NIV).
The Apostle to Titus, another growing church leader: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2 NIV).
For disciples of Jesus, on normal, ordinary and regular days, Christians are strongly encouraged to be law-abiding citizens. However, life brings profound surprises when we seek to apply the always.“As a disciple of Jesus am I compelled to always follow specific laws, if I find them to be in violation of God’s other instructions?”
Scripture’s historical record also documents a time when the Apostle Peter experienced a profound political challenge and while speaking said, “We must obey God rather than human beings” (Acts 5:29 NIV). Now, how will you then live?
1. In searching to develop your own discipleship, the resources of Chuck Colson and The Colson Center could be helpful. Using your search engine type in “The Manhattan Declaration,” for a variety of interviews with Chuck Colson, Dr. Timothy George and others — “Chuck Colson on Religious Freedom and the Possible Necessity of Civil Disobedience.”
2. A fine article by Paul Marshall is also helpful: “Civil Disobedience,” in The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity,” InterVarsity Press, 1997. It provides particular cautions to Christians of the Western World.
3. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letters from Birmingham Jail. Available on line from numerous retailers.