This past week Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska took a few minutes to clarify the difference between civics and politics. According to Mr. Sasse, civics are the organizing structures and principles by which we operate our governmental system in America. Civics are the fundamental truths that lie behind our executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Civics is the stuff that we should all agree on regardless of our party affiliation. Politics, on the other hand, are the different approaches and beliefs that we advocate as we operate within the civic structure. Laws and policies are written to be enforced by governmental authorities and judicial systems and come about as a result of political approach. These are the areas in which different parties disagree about how things should be handled.
In Romans 13:1-7 Paul lays out a heavenly civics lesson for believers. Here, he doesn’t so much delve into politics but gives the church in Rome a framework for understanding the authority structures of the universe, from heaven on down. This was timely for a 1st century church operating within the Pax Romana and it remains timely for a 21st century church operating in a Western Republic. As we seek to navigate things from judicial confirmation hearings to a looming presidential election, it is important for us to place these events in a broader framework and understand how we hold our faith in such a time as this.
Pastorally I know that politics has many of us in knots right now. Anxiety levels for both the left and the right are high. This Sunday offers a chance for a cup of cool water to refresh weary travelers, as we are reminded that behind all the principalities and powers, both seen and unseen, there is a hierarchy that brings us into the throne room of our true King. Because this is such a front-burner topic, I want to invite you to a special sermon discussion on Wednesday at 6PM followed by a time of prayer for us, for our country, and for the Church from 7PM-8PM. Both of these will be in the sanctuary at church. What better way to engage present political challenges than by looking at the Word and spending time in prayer!