The American people have a love-hate relationship with their government. This is as it should be, primarily because government is not our God. Easter Sunday seems an opportune time to remember this and renew our commitment to a republic under God rather than one that displaces or subjugates the creator.
James Madison Had It Right
In 1785 James Madison wrote, “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” Born in King George County, Virginia, in 1751, Madison, often referred to as the “Father of the Constitution,” seems prescient when these words are applied to our day and time. He rightly expressed caution and concern for the power that government can assert over its people. It could be said that this quote captures the principal difference between the political left and right in America today. Ronald Reagan echoed Madison’s fear when he asserted that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
The Bible speaks of power this way. In Matthew 22:29 Jesus said, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” Real power rests with the creator and not His creation (Job 38-42), and certainly not in the governments of any era which, after all, are appointed by God (Daniel 2:21). Thus true power cannot be attained by governments; it rests with One who will not abuse it (Psalm 86:5).
Ayn Rand’s Pithy Pointers
The mother of objectivism, Ayn Rand, penned yet another perceptive concept that demonstrates why government is not our God. And it cannot be said that Rand adhered to any sort of established religion. Yet the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged was able to put her finger on a dilemma that has reared its head in 21st century America:
“We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.”
An era of government tyranny does seem to be fast approaching if it has not already arrived, as many would argue that, indeed, it has. When people labor under such laws as to which straws they are permitted to use and a tax code that is 60,000 pages – an estimated seven times the length of the Bible – one can safely say that the hand of tyranny is upon us, pushing its way into every aspect of our lives.
Thus, individual liberty and freedom suffer under myriad regulations that are tantamount to oppression. Step out your door, get in your car, and head on down to the McDonald’s drive-thru; you will likely be violating one law or another. Yes, government can be suffocating, which again shows us that it cannot and should not be our God.
In contrast, Paul wrote in his epistle to the Galatians: “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Of course, Paul was talking about the religious laws of the day, and some non-Christian enthusiasts may counter this with the verse where Jesus says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” (Mark 12:17, KJV), but they would be reminded to read the second part of this verse, which adds “and give to God what belongs to God” (NLT). Even a tyrannical government does not own its people, though some have tried to sell this assertion to their people.
Milton Friedman Puts Bounty in Perspective
Economist and Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman said: “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.” Here we recognize how tyrannical governments are effective in taking rather than giving to their people. While this comment is a bit satirical, as is often said, the truth is in the joke. The leftist politicians of our day are always “running out of” and “requesting more.” There is never enough money to do all the things we don’t want and always a desire to take from those who toil for what they own.
In contrast, Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Professing Christians will attest to the fact that life under the power of God is one where their “cup runneth over” (Psalm 23:5, KJV) – not necessarily with earthly things, but The Things that Matter Most.
Is Easter calling you to throw off the yoke of an all-powerful, tyrannical government whose raison d’être is to rule, take, and enslave?
During the last supper, Jesus said the following to His disciples: “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25)
And so today – Easter Sunday, 2019 – may be a time to ask yourself a central question: Who would you rather reign over your life – the liberating, loving, and truly powerful presence of Jesus Christ, who showed humility and sacrificial love in His life, death, and resurrection. Or do you prefer to worship at the altar of a tyrannical government? Simply put: Who is your God?
[Jer. 23:1; Ezek. 34:3]