With national elections recently taking place in the US—even as the winners of a number of races have not been certified and may even be subject to ongoing legal wrangling or run-off elections—I’ve been contemplating what my personal response should be whether I like or don’t like the eventual outcomes.
I’ve also been considering how to separate my feelings about certain aspects of our country and its government (along with its changing regulations and cultural landscape) from my thoughts about and daily interactions with any number of the 328 million diverse and unique individuals who make up the citizenry of this great land.
Finally, in relation to the country of China—where I’ve had the opportunity to live and serve for more than a decade—how do I (as an American) keep a balanced perspective between honoring, respecting, and upholding China’s laws—even those that I may strongly disagree agree with—while at the same time not losing Christ’s heart, compassion, and love for China’s 1.44 billion people—most of whom don’t know him and many of whom struggle each day to survive?
Whether living in the US, in China, or in one of the other nearly 200 countries in the world, I know from Romans 13:1-6 that God has given me clear instructions about what I am supposed to do in relation to governing authorities:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.
And, the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 further tells me how and why I am supposed to do this:
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.
Okay, I understand what I’m supposed to do, and even how and why I’m supposed to do it, but what about those “kicking against the goads” feelings, alongside the very real fear and angst, that still dwell deep inside of me? How do I separate my disdain for the many governmental and societal evils that I see from the proactive love and service that I’m supposed to be exhibiting as a follower of Jesus towards those who are lost and dying, no matter where they live?
In pragmatic terms—especially as it relates to the country, the government, and the people of China—here are some other thoughts and statistics I have been considering, gleaned from an August 22, 2020 South China Morning Post article by Orange Wang entitled “China’s Ageing Rural Peasants Labour into Their Twilight Years as Pensions ‘Cover Only Oil and Salt.’”
News reports detail China’s meteoric rise and economic advances, but one reality rarely discussed is the disparity between China’s urban dwellers’ growing prosperity and the lives of the aging farmers residing in rural China—still nearly 40% of China’s population. As pensions for farmers only amount to US$16-$36 per month (as compared to US$290-$430 a month for retired city dwellers), the necessity to keep toiling in the fields to survive way past retirement age remains the norm for many people. And for rural families whose family members have disabilities or whose breadwinners are injured, ill, or have died, their circumstances can quickly become dire as non-agricultural jobs in villages are virtually non-existent.
So, what should each of us as believers in Jesus Christ do when confronted with realities like this? When our concerns or fears about our own country or its government—or another country like China’s—bump up against Jesus’ expressed love for all people (including each country’s governmental leaders)? Our response should be the same:
- Submit to God—and to the authorities that he has established—with a firm trust in God and his plan.
- Do not fear. But rather, do what is right, in faith, believing.
- Pray, with thanksgiving, for all peoples—and for all those in authority—while exhibiting peace, quietness, godliness, and holiness in our daily lives.
- Reflect Jesus to all around us, so that they, too, may come to the knowledge of the truth.
If you’d like a small, but tangible way, to share Jesus’ love with a group of women and their families in China (as well as bless your own friends and family), here’s a simple way to do that.
My wife and I have been supporting a small company called Evergreen Cards (based in Shanxi Province, China) for the past 15 years. This small company, begun as an economic development project in 2004 by Evergreen Family Friendship Service, provides job opportunities for women from families with real, identifiable needs from the small villages in the poor and rural parts of the province. After training, these women—with intricate skill and care—hand-cut tens of thousands of gorgeous greeting cards each year.
If you live in the US or Canada, you can join us in supporting this work by purchasing and using any of Evergreen’s cards or bookmarks—including several dozen beautiful Christmas card designs (many that include Scripture)—at www.evergreencardsusa.com.
Those who live outside the US and Canada can email Evergreen at firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order.
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