Phil (Philip Piño) and Billy (Billy Ver)
Billy: Hi Phil, what’s up? You seem upset.
Phil: Who wouldn’t be upset? Nothing’s changed! It doesn’t matter who sits in power, it’s always the people that suffer!
Billy: Anything in particular that bothers you?
Phil: Human rights violations, lack of equality, the same old problem of poverty. Like I said, nothing’s changed! And you church going people are of no help!
Phil: Sorry, no offense, just being honest.
Billy: (smiles) It’s okay. Anyone would get upset when what they believe is wrong is being done as if it’s right. Though I am curious why you say church going people are of no help.
Phil: Because your own Bible teaches about social justice and how a government should behave according to God’s laws but you either do nothing to help improve society or your leaders meddle in political affairs. Again, no offense, just being honest.
Billy: I appreciate your openness and honesty Phil, and no offense taken (smiles). Would you like to discuss the issues you raised so we can have a better understanding of what the Bible teaches? You brought up some very interesting matters that are, frankly, often misunderstood about the Bible and the church’s responsibility to society.
Phil: Sure! I have often wondered about what the use of being a Christian is if Christianity doesn’t make a difference in society. Look at our country, one of the most religious and at the same time one of the most corrupt in the world!
Billy: You seem to have certain assumptions and expectations about the Bible, Christianity and Christians, and religion and religiosity. Let’s clarify our terminologies first so we are on the same page.
Phil: What do you mean?
Billy: The Bible is a collection and compilation of ancient writings believed to be God’s Word, meaning, God’s message to mankind. This message is about who God really is, how and why He created man, how God and man’s relationship got strained, and how God is bringing man back to a right relationship with him. While the Bible contains many instructions that are useful and beneficial to society, the main purpose of the Bible is to bring man back to a right relationship with his Creator.
The root cause of society’s ills is that people have decided that they are going to do their own thing according to what they want and what pleases them, regardless of whether it is actually right or wrong to do so. Hence all the corruption, oppression, and human rights violations. When we take God out of the picture, we take things into our own hands.
Phil: So the Bible is irrelevant to our society?
Billy: The Bible is relevant. In fact, it instructs how Christians ought to behave in society because their allegiance is with God. Consider 1 Peter 2:11-17.
Billy: So you see, Christians ought to be the model citizens of their country.
Philip: What if the country’s government is corrupt or what if you can’t stand the behavior of your leaders?
Billy: A Christian’s attitude and behavior should not be based on whether or not he is happy with the government and its leaders. A Christian’s attitude and behavior should be based on his allegiance and obedience to God. Besides, the Roman emperors weren’t exactly the most likable leaders in history but Christian were always encouraged to be respectful.
Philip: Doesn’t the Bible condemn bad leaders? Didn’t the prophets angrily preach against evil kings?
Billy: Yes, but that was ancient Israel. Ancient Israel was a theocracy, meaning, God himself was their king. The Israelites were also bound by a covenant (contract, treaty) between them and God through Moses’ giving of the law. So the prophets were sent by God to point out the covenant violations being committed by the king and the people. Our country is not a theocracy. We cannot expect our government to behave like King David’s administration.
Philip: So we’ll just tolerate the corruption and human rights violations?
Billy: No, that is why we ought to be model citizens. We cannot make any positive impact on our government and our society using anger and disrespect.
Philip: So what should a good Christian citizen do?
Billy: We must have a different mindset and it comes from fully committing ourselves to God (Romans 12:1-2). Then we can behave the way we ought to. Look at Romans 13:1-7.
1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Phil: That’s it? Shouldn’t we do more?
Billy: Yes, of course. Look at 1 Timothy 2:1-5.
1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,
Phil: So you’re saying that instead of being angry and disrespectful, a Christian ought to be a model citizen and ought to constantly pray for the government?
Phil: And it is unreasonable and baseless to expect the Philippines and the Philippine government to behave as ancient Israel should because they were a theocracy and we’re not?
Phil: Is it really that easy? It seems I can’t help but get angry every time I hear the news or open my social media apps.
Billy: Your feelings are understandable but have you considered how God feels about all the evil in society?
Phil: God hates sin, right?
Billy: Yes, because it dishonors Him and destroys His beloved creation.
Billy: You know what God did to bring back His honor and to deal with sin, right?
Phil: He came to die for sin?
Billy: What does that mean for you, Phil?
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