To all esteemed public officials and those pursuing office in the upcoming election,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. I write from two positions that God in His providence has given me. First, for the past eight years I have enjoyed being a citizen of Franklin County. I am grateful to live in such a beautiful part of this land. Second, I write to you as a minister of the Gospel. For some that may come across as something of small significance, but God says otherwise. The Bible teaches that ministers who conduct themselves according to the Word of God are in fact ambassadors for Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 5:20). As a citizen, therefore, I appeal to you from our national and state constitutions; as a minister, I appeal to you from heaven.
During the last two years, we have witnessed rapid and remarkable changes in our nation and world. For many these political upheavals have been overshadowed by deep personal sorrow and grief. In fact, avoiding the potential of further personal grief is frequently cited as the basis for continuing political change. To those who have lost loved ones, who have kept faithful and tearful vigil—either at the sick bed or separated from it—I offer my genuine and sincere sympathies. Sickness and death are not native to this world. It is right to groan under the weight of the sorrow they produce. How I pray that these hardships will lead you to faith in Jesus Christ, the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). For this reason, I urge all present and aspiring public officials not to take advantage of your shaken citizenry. I appeal to you instead to bear in mind your solemn duty to adhere faithfully to the just laws and standards upon which our country and state were founded.
I want to situate this open letter under two terms that are broadly reaching and easily remembered: accountability and responsibility.
You are accountable in two ways. First, you are subject to the God of Heaven, who is good, wise, righteous, and holy. This is very different from your second level of accountability, namely, the laws of this land and the citizens over whom God has placed you or will place you soon. To the public, you are in a place of superiority. By this term I intend to show you honor. The Word of God commands all to subject themselves to their rulers, a command I desire to obey without regret. Take this position of honor seriously. Your decisions affect far more than just yourself and your career. Families, businesses, churches, schools, and generations will be influenced by the decisions of today. I pray God will grant you wisdom and humility to make them well.
More importantly, I urge you to remember that you are ultimately accountable to God. There may be some who do not believe in Him. To you, I offer the words of Psalm 2:10-12, “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” Unbelief does not alter unchanging truth, much less dethrone the eternal, immortal God. He is your Creator and Judge. Before Him you will be called to account.
By way of humble and firm entreaty, I remind you that the One who reigns from Heaven is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is supreme; you are not. In many corners of our land, reverence for Him has dissipated. Homes, schools, even churches, have in many respects lost sight of His majesty and righteousness. Nevertheless, the reality of His glory has not diminished in the least, for “the LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).
You are therefore responsible to conduct yourself wisely and righteously, and what a responsibility it is. For this reason, I ask you to consider the following three questions that outline your responsibilities. First, from where do you derive your authority? Romans 13:1 declares, “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Properly understanding this truth will lead you to humble contrition, not haughty ambition. Since you are given this position by God, you must seek to rule, care, and govern in a manner pleasing to Him. Second, by what standard will you govern? Will it be your own ambition? Will it be popular opinion? Will you follow the ever-changing winds that blow from Atlanta or Washington DC? Or will you govern by the standard of our Constitution? More importantly, will you govern with true justice? Speaking of God’s wisdom, Proverbs 8:15-16 asserts, “By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, all the judges of the earth.” Will you exercise your responsibility in office by the whims of man or the wisdom of God? Here I offer a specific and practical plea. Please purchase and read Matthew J. Trewhella’s The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates. It will be an invaluable guide to you and blessing to us if you do. Thirdly, how will you give account for your work? When you stand before the Great Throne of Judgment, will you be able to give happy account before the One who sees and knows all things (Proverbs 15:3)? Then and there your decisions will be considered, your motives weighed, and all corruption will be exposed in the light of His presence.
I want you to know that I write with the utmost respect, desiring to submit to you in the Lord and support you in your just conduct in office. God’s Word commands us to pray for all in authority, and you have my word that I will do so (1 Timothy 2:1-2). I also write with authority. Ministers too have an office given by God; it is spiritual, not physical, and legitimate by divine appointment. Insofar as what I have written rightly communicates what God has said, it bears the weight of heaven. May the Lord grant you all wisdom and humility. Please fulfill your solemn duties of office for the good of those who elected you and for the glory of the God who made you.
Most sincerely and respectfully
Pastor, Heritage Presbyterian Church