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Happy Government Day

Government

On a beautiful spring Saturday I looked out my picture window at my happy neighbors, a young couple in their 30s. Bela is Hungarian and Susan is English, but here they are in America, homeowners on Long Island. Bela’s parents were there with them, as they often are. It’s a blessing that they live in the same town and can stop by frequently, especially since the birth of little Stanley a few months ago, Susan’s first.

Another couple arrived for a visit, obviously friends. They seemed similar in age and situation. They have twins Stanley’s age, and all four parents, together with Grandma and Grandpa, stood in the spring sunshine making much of the babies.

A gray-haired man pulled up in a small sport utility vehicle and got out. He lifted a tray of yellow bedding flowers from the back hatch and approached the gathering with a bright smile. They greeted each other with kisses—he’s perhaps an uncle—and Susan placed the flowers carefully on the porch for planting later. And off they went together for a walk in the neighborhood.

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It struck me that this happy scene could unfold the way it did because government was doing its job, providing an umbrella of protection so people could flourish together in their families and communities. For this reason, Paul told Timothy to pray for political leaders, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2).

I saw three blessings in this scene.

The first blessing was the most fundamental but also the most invisible: security. There was no sense of danger in the neighborhood, whether from other neighbors, invading armies, or even from the government itself. They could all wander off with their strollers in peace.

The second and most obvious good was family—three generations of it. With peace and security, people can live to see their grandchildren. They can enjoy the sweetest things in life: folks we love and who love us in turn. Government has an important role in supporting families, protecting them from destructive burdens and not imposing unnecessary burdens, and keeping the Sabbath free and quiet. This way, moms and dads like Susan and Bela can stay together and grow old together, chiefly so that little ones like Stanley can mature into godly, pleasant, and productive adults.

Third, I saw prosperity. Yes, it was each other they were enjoying, but in the richness of God’s creation. Stable homeownership. Reliable cars and sturdy strollers. Flowers for sharing. Government oversight of the economy without meddling interference secures people to cultivate the earth for everyone’s benefit. I know these people work hard.

God gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). But to that end he also gives us government without which—in its place—there cannot be much enjoyment of anything. We have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day. We should also have Government Day to remind us that our civic leaders are God’s servants for our good (Romans 13:3-4). Perhaps it would prompt those servants to remember their servanthood, and all of us to reflect on how under God they are called to serve.

D.C. Innes
D.C. Innes

D.C. is associate professor of politics at The King's College in New York City and co-author of Left, Right, and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Russell Media). Follow D.C. on Twitter @DCInnes1.

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