A few weeks ago at my church, I had the pleasure and privilege of preaching from God’s Word. (The link to the video for that can be found here.) The sermon series this summer has been “What Does God Say About _____.” After much thought, I decided to roll the dice and propose the topic of government. Nothing controversial there, right?
I proceeded with my points:
- Government was instituted by God
- We must submit to the governing authorities.
- The only thing we can do with government is corrupt it.
It was this third and last point that came to mind when I was listening to the radio and heard an unbeliever (my assumption) echo the very sentiment. This past week, Russian president Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed in the New York Times slamming American “exceptionalism,” the notion that there is nothing special about America. The radio host vehemently disagreed. He said the following:
So what is it? Well, if you know the history of the world… Read your Bible, read whatever historical account of humanity you hold dear, and what you’ll read about is human tyranny. You’ll read of bondage. You’ll read of slavery. The vast majority of the people, the vast majority of the human beings who have lived and breathed and walked this planet have lived under the tyranny of despots, the vast majority.
It isn’t even close.
The vast majority of the people of this world since the beginning of time have never known the kind of liberty and freedom that’s taken for granted every day in this country. Most people have lived in abject fear of their leaders. Most people have lived in abject fear of whoever held power over them. Most people in the world have not had plentiful access to food and clean water. It was a major daily undertaking for most people to come up with just those two basic things.
Just surviving was the primary occupation of most people in the world. The history of the world is dictatorship, tyranny, subjugation, whatever you want to call it of populations — and then along came the United States of America. Pilgrims were the first to come here seeking freedom from all of that. They were oppressed because of their religion. They were told they had to believe in the king and his god, whatever it was, or they would be imprisoned.
They led an exodus from Europe to this country, people of the same mind-set. They simply wanted to escape the tyranny of their ordinary lives. This country was founded that way. For the first time in human history, a government and country was founded on the belief that leaders serve the population. This country was the first in history, the EXCEPTION — e-x-c-e-p-t, except. The exception to the rule is what American exceptionalism is.
It is because of this liberty and freedom that our country exists, because the founders recognized it comes from God. It’s part of the natural yearning of the human spirit. It is not granted by a government. It’s not granted by Putin. It’s not granted by Obama or any other human being. We are created with the natural yearning to be free, and it is other men and leaders throughout human history who have suppressed that and imprisoned people for seeking it.
The US is the first time in the history of the world where a government was organized with a Constitution laying out the rules, that the individual was supreme and dominant, and that is what led to the US becoming the greatest country ever because it unleashed people to be the best they could be. Nothing like it had ever happened. That’s American exceptionalism. Putin doesn’t know what it is, Obama doesn’t know what it is, and it just got trashed in the New York Times. It’s just unacceptable.
The host? Rush Limbaugh. (His full monologue can be found here.) Even an unbeliever understands that we as humans have a tendency to corrupt everything we come in contact with. Even an unbeliever knows that there is a supreme being that endows men with rights. The problem is that we look for redemption in the external. We look for salvation through government (whether less or more of it, even though I certainly have an opinion which is better!).
Yet, salvation, deliverance, and eternal life are only found in one place — the God-man Jesus the Messiah. He paid the penalty for our sins at His first coming, and He will set up the most perfect government when He comes again! Lord, haste the day!