Christians are people of first principles, and we must be people of first principles especially when the world around us is shaking, crumbling, or has gone mad. What do we mean by first principles? The Apostles’ Creed is a wonderful statement of first principles. We believe in one God, and this God is both our Father and He is Almighty. He made all things, He rules all things, and He does so as our loving Father. And that love has been manifest and proven in the death and resurrection of His only begotten Son, the pouring out of His Spirit in the Church, the fellowship of the saints, and our firm hope of resurrection glory.
But these first principles are rich with meaning and wisdom. For example, the fact that God is Almighty, means that all authority flows from Him, all “might” flows from Him. The fact that He rules as our faithful Father informs how we understand His authority and all other authorities. He has established the authority of magistrates in the city gates, elders in the church, and fathers in the home. And they all answer to Him, the Father Almighty.
In moments of crisis or uncertainty, it is particularly important that every authority take responsibility. This is not a moment to sit back and watch other authorities. Each has a different jurisdiction, but part of the love that we owe God and our neighbor is bound up in each jurisdiction fulfilling its duties before God. Magistrates must guard their people and punish evildoers, elders must proclaim the gospel, feed the sheep, and guard the flock, and husbands and fathers must love their wives and children and provide for them and teach them.
While nearly half of the world is currently shut down by the orders of civil magistrates, elders and husbands and fathers still retain their authority directly from God. The Word is clear that we are to honor, pray for, and submit to magistrates in the Lord. But the Word is equally clear that elders are to shepherd the flock of God, and fathers are to love and provide for their families. There must not be any abdicating or relaxing of these duties or jurisdictions, especially in times of uncertainty or when there may be tensions between them. Love is keeping God’s commandments. And when we have obeyed with simplicity of heart, we are free to live with a clean conscience before God.
This reminds us of our need to confess our sins.
“We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces…” (Dan. 9:5-7)
Father, we confess that we are nation of abdicators and blame-shifters. Like our father Adam, we have made excuses and blamed others for our own failings, rather than taking responsibility and repenting joyfully. This includes the proclivity of men in our land to abdicate their responsibilities to lead, protect, and provide, leaving wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers insecure, unprotected, exploited, exasperated, and rebelliously desperate to take up the slack. Father, we acknowledge that it is a curse to be ruled by women and children, and we acknowledge that we have not only insisted on this curse, but we have celebrated it as enlightened, sophisticated, and virtuous. Father, we further confess that all of this abdication has left us completely vulnerable to fear and anxiety and tyranny. We confess that we have sinned this way in our city gates, in our churches, and in our homes, and we confess that we deserve all the calamity and turmoil that we are getting. And so we cry out for mercy in the name of Jesus, for the sake of His precious blood. Deliver us from this curse because Christ bore our curse on the cross. And pour out Your Spirit that we might see our sin clearly, confess it honestly, and forsake it entirely. Father, we know that if we in the church give any kind of pass to sin in our own lives, this prayer will be ineffectual, so we silently confess our individual sins to You now. Selah.