There are several verses in the Bible telling us to be submissive to the authority (1 Peter 2:13-14; Romans 13; 1 Titus 3:1-3). Many Christians ask, how about those rulers who are unjust, cruel, oppressive? How do we respond? Do we remain silent?
In 1 Peter 2:18 it says, “Servants, you must obey your masters and always show respect to them. Do this, not only to those who are kind and thoughtful, but also to those who are cruel.”. Here, Peter was speaking to the non-Jewish Christians (chosen & exiled) who were under the authority of oppressive rulers. And just as Peter said, we still respect the unjust rulers; we do so not because we must, but because we are capable, as an overflow of His grace.
We have to constantly remind ourselves that this world is not our home, so we don’t allow ourselves to be consumed by the patterns of this world. God shows mercy to everyone; Christ completely paid the penalty of our sins on the cross, both for the “righteous” and the unrighteous, because He knew that we can’t (Ephesians 2:8-10). In James 2:10, “If you obey every law except one, you are still guilty of breaking them all.” — We are sinners just as those oppressive government officials.
But do we just tolerate the evil? Certainly not. In 1 Peter 2:15 it says, “God wants you to silence stupid & ignorant people by doing RIGHT.”
The moment we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior, we have been given new status; the old has gone, the new has come. His transforming power is continually and will continually sanctify us in this lifetime. So as believers, we are expected to be righteous in our words, thoughts, writings, and actions. We have been given freedom (freed form the penalty of our sins), and it is expected that it would be reflected on us in righteous and joyful ways, for we rejoice even in our sufferings—our minds are freed to this age. As we acknowledge God as our ultimate authority, dwell in His sanctuary & immerse in His presence, no harsh or unjust men can put our hearts into slavery of hatred & misery. We see these things as way below the authority of our Father.
We resist the evil, but we do not rebel, instead, we respond Christ-likely. We hate sin, but not the person, just as how Christ demonstrated it several times in the Bible. Let us also be reminded that we all need grace, for even Paul struggled with sin even after he was born again, in Romans 7:14 he said, “I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate.” And that’s why we must constantly rely on the Spirit, for we do not just wrestle against the flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil. So we wear the full army of God (Ephesians 6:10-16) as we eagerly wait for the coming of Christ. I can truly say that Christianity is not hard; it is impossible without God.
So in these times, when the poor are in danger, lives are threatened, powers are abused, is it right for us to remain silent and be passive? Several verses in the Bible we are told to not tolerate evil doings, to even rebuke our brothers & sisters in Christ who do wrong. Even Paul confronted Peter in public when he practiced hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). Is God asking you to speak up? If He does calls you to, then yes, you can speak up and confront the authorities who do not punish evil nor praise good; we confront those who participate in evil & cause others to do the same. We confront, but we do not curse them. We speak up, but we do not condemn the person. For our God is the God of just, and He is the only one in authority who can judge & punish evil, not us.
We are like Christ’s letters in this world, and we must not forget that our ultimate purpose here is to be Christ’s ambassadors, we are to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. So in all things, in all ways, our words, writings & actions must always be directed towards Him.
We are not to be passive but being active isn’t limited to speaking up! God has given us specific & unique gifts & convictions, we are encouraged to maximize those for His glory! We help the needy; we courageously speak the truth; we encourage; we proclaim the Gospel; we are prayer warriors; & for the things we cannot control we just simply lay them under the authority of God. More than the good deeds, have active faith! God is more passionate than us, God knows things we don’t, God told us to be still, and remember that if we do “good” things for the purposes other than leading people to Christ, then it’s probably time to re-examine our hearts.