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« Your Worldly Possessions Relationship: Jesus as the Pearl of Great Price | Main | Your Legal Relationship: Jesus as Judge »

We Have Recourse to Grievance within the Law 

(This is the conclusion of the chapter on Your Legal Relationship: Jesus as Judge)

Clear cut differences exist between legality and morality.  Many sinful practices fall within legal parameters, but are far from moral.  It is not immoral, however, to register a complaint or charge grievances against people or parties that have caused you injury.  For example, if you get involved in an automobile accident that is not your fault, you can recover damages from the offending driver both legally and morally.  Or, if you are wrongfully terminated from your job, you can go through a legal grievance process to get your job back or be compensated for your loss.  These scenarios and others like them as part of our justice system are both legal and moral.  Believers do not have to suffer wrong regarding harmful acts that have nothing to do with faith or religious reasons. 

Prior to these laws, victims were at the mercy of the rich and powerful.  People who were harmed, defrauded, robbed or maligned had to suffer in silence.  Nobody came to their rescue.  Today, there are laws that protect the “little guy,” like whistleblower laws, non-discrimination laws, consumer protection laws, laws against sexual harassment, Truth-in-Lending laws, collection agency harassment laws, and many more.  Believers who defend themselves by means of these laws do not betray their faith or violate the Word of God, notwithstanding their Christian obligation to stay within the wording of the law, and their refusal to be motivated by retaliation or revenge.

Related to this, believers also may find themselves in the middle of lawsuits where they are called upon to testify for or against a defendant. Often, because an attorney has subpoenaed them to appear in court, they have no option to remain neutral.  In such cases, we are obligated to tell the truth without prejudice.  It is not wrong to get involved in litigation or serve as jurors; it is our civic duty.  The Bible refers to court cases as well by saying that every word should be established by two or three witnesses and other instances of courtroom scenes. 

We Must Not Take Fellow Believer’s to Law

The Bible does make one action abundantly clear: we are not to take a brother (or sister) to law.  Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? Through these rhetorical questions, the Apostle Paul reasons with the Corinthians from an eternal standpoint.  They were to be above petty legal squabbles.  He then proceeds to instruct them on how to resolve their internal disputes.  If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?  I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?

Instead of respecting one another, they were acting foolishly, as though they were not in the same spiritual family.  But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!  Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.  The unity of the church is more important than the welfare of any individual in the church.  When we have confidence in Jesus as our Judge, we will not attempt to judge each other in human terms.  The mark of a mature relationship with Christ is the willingness to defer all judgment to Him.

We Can Participate in Governmental Activities

Our form of government differs greatly from that of Roman times.  It is not surprising, then, that the scriptures are silent about voting, running for an elected office, or accepting an appointment to civil service.  Those opportunities did not exist in those days.  In our democratic society, many Apostolic Christians have served in federal, state and local positions without compromising their convictions. Richard Doster, writing for byFaith Magazine, says, “Christians, when rightly informed and motivated, change the character of political debate. They bring the moral standards of God’s kingdom into the civic realm and thereby become agents of His common grace — of His provision for those who believe as well as those who don’t.”  

There is a caveat, however, to public service for Christians.  Participants can easily become caught up in the power structure and begin believing that political power surpasses the power of the Holy Spirit.  Also, much of politics is rife with deception and lack of integrity.  Those who choose to get involved must keep their hearts and spirits free from wrong influences.  Never forget that politics will never represent the ultimate solution to the problems of humanity.  As has often been stated in many places, we cannot legislate our way to morality and peace.  Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, remains the true answer for the world. 

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