Saturday, May 8, 2010

I.D. CRISIS--Series 10 of 20--Government

Author: Kurt Koppetsch, Publisher, Shepherd News Trust

This blog is designed to examine the performance of Congress, the Executive Branch and the Judiciary in light of the Constitution of the United States. The "government by the people for the people" is charged to serve the present and future generations in a just and compassionate manner. Furthermore, government shares with all Americans the monumental task of defending freedom and justice as spelled out in the Constitution of the United States of America. Additionally, the leitmotiv in this blog is the spiritual connection as a timeless relationship of trust with the living God.

The goal of the Shepherd Blog is to help people secure quality of life as prefaced by truth, justice, peace, health, shelter, economic independence and by resolving human stress as the acute spiritual problem that overwhelms people and nations.

The book I.D. Crisis by Kurt Koppetsch deals with the spiritual, intellectual, and social conflict in modern times. Confusion about the past and uncertainties in the present prevent us from knowing our true nature. As a direct consequence of such confusion, visions of the future are clouded. Some of the diversions that prevent us from realizing our true identity as children of God are philosophies, politics, economics and falsehood such as religious cults. The solution is remembering that human beings are dependent creatures of God.

Each series of the book I.D. Crisis will conclude with the poem "Rays of Hope and Freedom" to assure readers that God cares about our lives and we are his children of hope. Hope is the From/to process at work in the modern Era of Faith repairing life and circumstance. Hope is making the impossible come true.


1. The role of Government

"And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to entrap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, 'Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?' But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, 'Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let me look at it.' And they brought one. And he said to them, 'Whose likeness and inscription is this?' They said to him, 'Caesar's.' Jesus said to them, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.' " (Mark 12:13-17)

And Jesus plainly told Pilate: "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world .... For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." (John 18:36,37)

Government is an institution of the world. It exists by authority of the people it represents. Its function is to preside over the affairs of society so that order is maintained through a system of law and justice. Government further administers the responsibility of the people and provides for public welfare for those in need.

The laws that government rules by are commonly derived by from experience of problem situations. These are mostly written to correct the shortcomings in social behavior. The intent of these laws is to project a better life for the future.

Laws are designed to give all people in a democratic society equal opportunity in the sharing of rights and obligations. Whereas the world depends on physical strength to make its system work, God's Commandments override human wisdom (Exodus 19-24).

For example, God's rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt has prompted Covenant and Law. Because of people's failure to live by God's standards, God intervened again. And the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are now part of humanity's history. Through them we also now have the model of the godly life before us. And the teaching about how believers are restored for sharing life with each other in God's presence (Romans 5:1-11) is God's message in the Gospel.

Through this knowledge of divine expectations and similar appreciation of civil laws, people within a given society can then adjust their behavior. An orderly people conforms to accepted norms and standards.

Enlightened government envisions a better way of life through the laws that it dictates. Its laws establish rules for relationships. They appropriate resources wisely. And they look protectively after the people, environment, and material blessings.

On the other hand, a bad government reacts to the matters at hand irrationally. Its laws reflect panic and confusion. In the following chaos, the most severe laws are selected as the instrument to rule people in tyranny. Confusion and chaos are the breeding grounds for conversions from democracy to autocracy.

A beneficent government knows how to maintain order through its laws by enforcing them justly. It recognizes the value of justice as a mechanism for controlling human behavior. Any enlightened society then becomes a dynamic force that establishes its own sphere of influence so that other societies will want to follow its model. When this happens, its status increases and the security of its people is strengthened.

The ideal rule by government has yet to be demonstrated in the world. Daily struggles toward this goal make up the crucial difference between "should" and what is. Even the most advanced democratic state--where citizens enjoy freedom of expression and find appreciation for excellence--look at utopia as a far-out concept.

Nevertheless, good government should strive to provide order through justice according to laws that are an agglomeration of the best available knowledge. These must be considerate and protective of the future. Good laws should incorporate all experiences of human behavior to prevent undesirable repercussions.

The complement of good laws and good government is necessary for the future and growth of any society This comes about when laws are evolutionary. Stability and progress provide the foundation for closing the gap between what is ideal and current fact--progress transforms the "should" in government action to the reality of daily life.

Built into the laws, and standing behind the enforcing government, is the authority of the people. Government and law are inseparable. One is the other's disciplined complement. Both should be established for the sole purpose of serving the people. The definite function of government is to maintain order by providing justly for all people.

2. Public Trust and Definition of Purpose

Law, order, and justice are the prime functions of any government.

A government's strength rests in the pertinence of the laws to the problems at hand. As the responsible authority to provide order through justice, government must stay dynamic by virtue of evolution in its systems of laws.

But as society progresses to new norms of behavior and updates its laws, government must act to protect the fundamental rights that are basic to ensuring human dignity. Because these are God-given rights, any government that recognizes the authority of God as the fundamental responsibility of its people is ruling according to wisdom and will be blessed with power.

Inasmuch as people have the responsibility to submit themselves totally to the authority of God, government has no right to dictate to its people anything that will affect, or can influence, spiritual performance or eternal destiny. The Kingdom of God and human organizations in the world are two separate entities. They are not only separate, but they are diametrically opposed to each other. The spirit indeed has superiority over the flesh. And the immortal prevails over the mortal.

Law, order, and justice, as incorporated in government, are to the world what the grace of God is to the Kingdom of heaven. As an institution of the world, government is the instrument of people. The people are responsible for government. And the government is accountable to the people, for it has received their authority as a matter of public trust.

Because government is a dominant force in contemporary life, it will benefit everyone to study its role and our involvement in it. We soon will discover that common to both people and nations is self-preservation. Modern man is not exempt from basic animal instincts. And neither has humanity suffered throughout the ages from a shortage of greed and lust for power.

In writing to the Church at Rome, Saint Paul gives a cursory review of a Christian's duties toward state authorities (Romans 13).

Paul speaks about personal behavior in any orderly society. He deliberately avoids fixing a burden of proof--with regard to responsibility and accountability--on those who govern. Saint Paul points to the performance of people.

Paul discusses a Christian's involvement in government in terms of the consequences of good and evil behavior. But our compliance to his warning that we must "show respect and honor" toward those who govern suddenly shifts responsibility and accountability from a believer's role to a servant's status.

Saint Paul writes: "Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment, for rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore, one must be subject, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience." (Romans 13:2-5)

Honor and respect extended by God's chosen people according to divine decree has suddenly turned into the "double-edged sword" over those in authority. What is freely given must be responsibly administered.

God complied with the wishes of Israel for a king (1 Samuel 8:22). Does this mean that God did not care any more? Far from it. God tolerates coexistence of good and bad people. But at the end of time all people must stand before God in judgment. Christ's parable about the Kingdom of Heaven exemplifies this point (Matthew 13:47-50)

Saul was an expert in the ways of the world. He knew what pleased people. For the sake of popularity, he sacrificed spiritual integrity and the authority of God's prophet (1 Samuel 13:7b-14). Saul's roller coaster performance met God's judgment as he and his sons died on Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:1-6).

By the example of Saul, we are again shown that God's interest is not embodied in the charisma of people, but in faithfulness and obedience to his will and purpose: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king." (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

The strength of any nation is the wisdom of its people. Governments are not made by wishful thinking or meaningless rhetoric. Never-ending promises seldom see the light of day.

People must learn to protect themselves from political theatrics and not become gullible to such trickery. We have been blessed with the truth about God through the Holy Spirit living in us for the purpose of doing the will of God. How, then, can we be faithful and obedient to God when we allow ourselves to be swayed by human nature? We must control human nature and not make it our master. For this very reason we have received newness of life in the Spirit to properly use the power of God.

The power of God is made available to us by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Christ said that the Holy Spirit "will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:14) The authority that we yield at the ballot box to elect our government is a definite part of this God-given power.

Our responsibility, then, definitely is to God. We are in no way accountable to man for something we have received from God. The right definition of authority in government then is authority by the people. When all realize this obligation, then government works on behalf of the people, doing exactly what they dictate.

3. Our Burden of Responsibility

Whenever people neglect their God-given responsibility, they similarly abdicate their authority to govern themselves. This change can take place through action or inaction at the ballot box, and the function of government can become changed from service to rule.

Our responsibility in the election process is just one part of our overall obligation as children of God. There are many lessons in the Bible to show how Israel's survival depended on loyalty to God, while disloyalty always led to disaster. The stories of Judges show the disaster that came when God's people turned away from him.

Let us review the instructions to the Israelites concerning the type of life God expected them to lead in the Promised Land: "Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither you go, lest it become a snare in the midst of you. You shall tear down their altars, and break their pillars, and cut down their Ashe'rim (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they play the harlot after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and one invites you, you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters play the harlot after their god and make your sons play the harlot after their gods." (Exodus 34:12-16)

But the people did not take their burden of responsibility seriously, and the beginning of disaster shows Israel's indictment. The angel of the LORD went from Gilgal to Bochim and said to the Israelites: "I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you into the land which I swore to give to your fathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my command." (Judges 2:1-2)

National disaster came upon the Israelites when they stopped worshipping God after the death of Joshua and began to serve local pagan gods. "So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them; and he sold them into the power of their enemies round about, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies." (Judges 2:14)

And the continuous story shows that Israel forgot God again and again. But in the same accounts we also read how the Israelites cried out to God and on every occasion "he sent a man who freed them." The writing in Judges gives valiant account about Othniel, Ehud, Deborah and Barak, and some more popular heroes like Gideon and Samson.

But the book of Judges also contains the dedicated efforts of eleven tribes and their fight against evil. The nation rightfully assumed the sexual abuse and murder of the Levite's wife as a national problem when they set out to rid the land of this evil and purified the faith. Commitment to God overshadowed their sorrow of having totally destroyed the tribe of Benjamin--save for 600 men--and it guided them in making provision so that the Benjaminites would not become extinct (Judges 19-21).

Today's Christians also know of their responsibility to God because of Christ's teaching, but we have an additional obligation to society because our freedom is based on a system of law which all people must uphold and support in order to benefit from this freedom.

The point that must be raised is whether individuals in a free society of God-fearing people have the right to abdicate their responsibility and give away their authority. As God-fearing people, do we have a right to deprive government leadership of best available talent and elect as leaders people who have many shortcomings? Let there not be any doubt, the burden and the responsibility is ours.

We have looked at the method by which government operates as a matter of public trust. Its nature is definitely a reflection of the character of its people. If the government looks sick, then the people surely require healing.

But we are too quick to explain our shortcoming by claiming that we were misled by false promises. Thus, we help set our own trap and then complain when we fall into it. Because we live in the world, we are wise to the world. Surely, we are familiar with the old tricks of stealing from Peter to pay Paul. But this is exactly the essence behind smooth-talking rhetoric that contains promises without any substance. It is our duty, therefore, to clamp down on any irresponsible actions, those in word as well as those in deed. But we don't. We overlook them, simply because by chance we may benefit by them.

Freedom degenerates as people wrongly think that they can afford it because they enjoy prosperity. But was we allow this to happen, government will claim credit for accomplishments, while at the same time flexing its muscle to show the world that it is in full charge. It alone has the authority and the power to rule. And the people will face very convincing arguments that a particular government should continue because it has all the necessary expertise in dealing with the wealth and the power of its people.

It is during these times of false prosperity that the nation will sink to its lowest level because power becomes abused. The consequence is that the poor in the land lose all support. The prosperous do not care, as long as they are taken care of. They do not suffer, although they wish some of the burdens to be lighter. Additionally, there is then no concern for future generations. Selfishness only strives to satisfy immediate demands.

Let us now clear up one of the greatest misconceptions since free society has been ruling itself. This is the notion that government is power and wealth. This is absolutely not true.

Government does not create power and wealth. If anything, it dilutes it.

Power and wealth are the resources of people. But because government is very arrogant, it wants to claim credit during times of prosperity. It readily reacts to praise. And it even more quickly responds when it comes to denying any responsibility for bad times. So we see politicians reacting whenever the floodlights are on problems.

Especially is this the case when these problems were created by the very acts of government and for which those in ruling authority should stand up as being responsible. It is easier to take credit than to accept blame. And the ruling body that once pretended to be so powerful now manufactures whimsical excuses as explanations why certain things happen the way they do.

Government is strong by virtue of the strength of the nation. But the strength of government is not at all a reason for its existence. Power and strength are only useful when wisdom to use them rightfully is present. It is a true saying that wisdom is power and knows how to handle it--but power without wisdom can bring about oppression and tyranny.

The public trust as the authority that people give their elected representatives should be a matter of wisdom and should not be acquired on the basis of cheap rhetoric and empty promises. The authority that rules under the umbrella of wisdom rules also in humility. Wisdom and humility should be partners! Only when they are does representative government provide service that is beneficial to its people.

There is nothing magical about this. This is exactly the objective for electing the government in the first place: To serve its people!

It must not be otherwise. Election to public office is an honor to serve all people justly in the confidence of humility, thus not taking anything for granted in return. Election to public office is an honor that costs dearly. It carries the burden to serve wisely, for the decisions of government have far-reaching consequences into the future.

The government must protect all its people. Through its system of laws it provides order as it justly administers the behavior of people. But a government's responsibility does not extend outside its own society.

Neither does government have any authority to regulate, by law or suggestion, the important relationship of God and man. Government rules in the world. But God, as the Creator of heaven and earth, is ruler of all. All matter concerning the spirit come under the authority given to Christ. Our resurrected Lord clearly assumed all responsibility on behalf of believers: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18) was Christ's confirmation to instill hope in apostles and disciples. And Christ substantiated the words of hope with the promise to guide our lives: "I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matthew 28:20)


My life was in chaos.
Darkness clouded my senses.
My heart trembled in fear.

I prayed to God:
"Father, help me!"
And God transformed my life.

The world is still the same.
But I am now secure.
Christ is my Savior!

His love fills my heart,
His faith is my faith.
Rays of hope now light up my soul.

Rays of hope and freedom
Show me the way to God,
And where Christ lives I too will live.

Copyright (C) 2009 by Kurt Koppetsch/Shepherd News Trust. All rights reserved.

(Excerpts from the books I.D. Crisis and Era of Faith by Kurt Koppetsch, published by Shepherd News Trust,

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