Columnists Religion West Edition

PASTOR’S CORNER: God and our political climate

I’ve never been a political junkie. In fact, I’ve always considered politics kind of boring — until now.

The current White House occupants changed all that with their emphasis on name-calling, disrespect and downright ignorant rantings. This is an era in American politics we have never seen before, and hopefully will never see again. But before it disappears, I have major concerns to discuss.

My dilemma is this: how should the body of Christ react to the current political climate in this country; and, what does God think about the direction in which our country is heading? In my view, all that has flowed from those in power is calculated to benefit the rich and trample on the rest of us. Case in point — health care, immigration and tax reform.

But, that’s enough political talk. Let’s get to the real issues as stated above. To address these issues, we need to go straight to God’s word. Issue one is addressed in Romans 13:1, where Paul writes that government authority comes from God and that we are required to submit to that authority. To resist, he says, is tantamount to resisting God.

This idea of submission continues through verse 4 of Romans 13 where Paul ensures that punishment will follow resistance (verse 2) for those who do evil and not good (verses 3 & 4). These latter two verses make the point that to avoid punishment and to be sure of praise from the government, one needs only to do good. He leaves no wiggle room for us to resist injustice.

So, what about that? Are we to submit, even when government action is clearly unjust, unfair and oppressive? Unfortunately, Paul doesn’t talk about government systems that are totalitarian or dictatorial where evil is a way of life. We have to go elsewhere in the scriptures to tackle this issue. But, before we do, the answer to the question is, yes – Romans 13 is still in effect.

But don’t lose heart. God, as always, has a plan. First, he advises us in Ecclesiastes 5:8 not to be surprised when government action oppresses the poor and perverts justice. He is fully aware that this will occur and is watching their every move. He reminds us that there is a power higher than any head of state on the Earth. The implication is that he’s got our backs, and he’ll handle things.

How, you ask? He explains it better than I can in the Message Bible, verbatim, in Isaiah10:1-4. “Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims – laws that make misery for the poor, that rob my destitute people of dignity, exploiting defenseless widows, taking advantage of homeless children.” In the final verses, he expands on the “doom” he refers to.

“What will you have to say on Judgment Day, when Doomsday arrives out of the blue? Who will you get to help you? What good will your money do you? A sorry sight you’ll be then, huddled with the prisoners, or just some corpses stacked in the street. Even after all this, God is still angry, his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.” Guess who gets the last word?

If those in power are the Christians they claim to be, Isaiah 10:1-4 should have a big-time impact on them, and maybe we will see changes in attitudes and behavior in D.C. Keep prayin’!

Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church. Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in Los Angeles.

Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column will appear monthly in The Wave and on its website,