How the Gospel Informs Public Policy

The God of the Bible made us in His own image.
Being made in His image, we are dependent creatures made for the purpose of honoring, loving, and glorifying Him.
Our relationship is that of a subject to a king, or a citizen to a government:
“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7).

There’s just one problem: we have all disobeyed our rightful King, forsaken Him, broken our covenant/agreement with Him, committed adultery against Him with idols.

One of the ways we dishonor God is by dishonoring the image of God in one another.  We express this rebellion in many ways and it shows up in the issues that concern us: immigration, gun laws, police brutality, racism, sexuality, gender equality, abortion, drugs, Syria, Russia, North Korea, China, etc.

For all intents and purposes, God has the right to punish us all befitting the measure of our deeds.

“But rebels and sinners shall be broken together,
and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.”
(Isaiah 1:28)

There’s a sense in which our sins are their own punishment, which is the case when a country suffers from bad leadership:

“Your princes are rebels
and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.
They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
and the widow’s cause does not come to them.”
(Isaiah 1:23)

When law enforcement is perverted where laws are lax as in the case of gun violence (insufficient regulation of access), or laws are present but poorly enforced (poorly enforced background check), the people suffer.

If social ills come from sin, and sin is our main problem where we are estranged from God, what hope do we have of solving our collective dilemma?

Thankfully, our rightful King offered us rebels a peace treaty through which we could be reconciled to Him and begin to enjoy the blessings He has available for us. As a general rule, people prosper when we model our thoughts and behaviors after God’s character of justice, love, mercy, and grace.

How are we to be reconciled? Repentance.  What is repentance?  It is dropping your arms of rebellion, asking the LORD for forgiveness and then performing acts consistent with that attitude of penitence, or “bearing fruit in keeping with repentance” as the Bible calls it (Matthew 3:8).

The LORD himself says:
“If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return.
If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver,
and if you swear, “As the LORD lives,” in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then nations shall bless themselves in him,
and in him shall they glory.” (Jeremiah 4:1-2)

In another place, “fruit in keeping with repentance” would look like the following:

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.”
(Isaiah 2:2)

Thus from a biblical perspective, the social ills that plague our society ultimately stem from a failure to give God the honor that He is due.  It is in the fear of Him, that our good works are done well and bless others and ourselves.

In our present time, “Return to Me,” and “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean” ultimately means that we are to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

If we are to “remove the evil of our deeds before His eyes,” that simply means that after being reconciled to our King through Jesus, we now live a life consistent with our renewed allegiance to our rightful King, a life which expresses itself through the way we interact with one another, including the laws that we make to promote the public good and pursue justice.

It is mysterious, but our Creator chooses to express Himself as three distinct centers of consciousness: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God the Son entered human history as Jesus of Nazareth to suffer the punishment that we humans deserve for dishonoring Him and one another.

It is said in Isaiah 53:4-6 of Jesus:

“Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned – every one – to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus had to die on the cross on Good Friday and rise from the dead on Easter Sunday to be the historical means by which we rebels could be reconciled to the King we so grievously betrayed.  The eternal worth of His person was the only sufficient means by which our eternal debt of sin could be paid.  He is the only appointed means by which our sins are washed away, and through which we can come before God the Father.

If we pray to Jesus to ask Him to be our Lord and Savior, asking Him for the forgiveness of our sins, then we will be reconciled to Him.  Being reconciled to Him, we enter a formal covenantal relationship with Him, whereby He agrees to be our mediator between the Father and ourselves, and we agree to be His people living a life consistent with allegiance to Him, and Jesus sends us the Spirit to aid us in our lives.

With reconciliation to God and enablement by the Spirit, we are better equipped and motivated to seek laws and public policies that promote the good of our neighbor, not just in our own country but for those in other nations as well.

I would argue that public policies are at their best when they are in alignment with God’s character, and this occurs well when people are reconciled to God in Christ Jesus and living a life consistent with that renewed allegiance.

Jesus is the most important person through which this outcome of public good can happen, because it is through Him and in Him that we are connected to God, and the abundant joys and blessings inherent in God can begin to flow into us and through us out into the rest of the world.  Such a sequence of events fulfills the promise, “If you swear, “As the LORD lives,” in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory,” a statement which echoes and fulfills the Abrahamic promise: “In your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”

So I implore you, dear reader, be reconciled to God. For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Christ, we might become the righteousness of God.  That same righteousness manifests itself in good works done for the glory of God and includes, seeks, and creates the happiness of ourselves and of our neighbors.

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