Christians look at civil government differently than some others might. Just as we see God at work in parents, raising, protecting, and caring for children, so do we view government as a work of God, tasked with protecting and caring for society. Rulers are, as Luther put it, our “fathers in office,” not in blood (Large Catechism, Fourth Commandment).
We may sometimes wonder why God grants us the fathers that we have. We may even find ourselves telling our fathers, in office or in blood, “I must obey God rather than you.” God sustains us in those times with the example of His Son, who made the good confession of faith even as He acknowledged Pilate’s authority to condemn Him (1 Timothy 6:13).
In the end, then, this startling statement—“the authorities are ministers of God”—serves both to confirm and to limit the authority of our earthly rulers. God establishes them, and just so, they are accountable to God and beneath Him. In either case, the truth serves to comfort God’s people: God’s providence rests over all! We love, honor, and pray for our rulers; we may even serve as rulers in good conscience; and at times, we bear witness against these rulers whom we are called to love.
LET US PRAY: O Lord of lords, bless the government of this land. Teach me to love those who make, administer, and judge our laws, and to hold them in esteem for Your sake, for truly, they are Your ministers for our good. Teach them also to turn aside from evil; to seek justice, humility, and mercy; and to temper speech and action with such wisdom that our common life may be wholesome and pleasing to You; through Christ our Lord. Amen
Pastor Steven K. Gjerde