Sheldon Silver, the 70-year-old speaker of the New York State Assembly from 1994 to 2015, was arrested Jan. 22 on accusations of using his power and influence to make millions, according to the criminal complaint.
Whether he is found guilty or not, Silver’s case is not unique to New York politics, or even to politics in general. However, Christians must take heart in that all political leaders are under God’s ultimate authority.
According to The New York Times, over 30 New York officials have gone to prison or been accused of “sexual or civic wrongdoing ranging from bribery to stealing money and extortion.”
Such statistics have contributed to the American public’s general distrust of our political leaders.
Seventy-three percent of Americans see corruption as widespread in government, according to a 2012 Gallup Poll. Furthermore, from 1964 to 2008, the percentage of Americans who said the government is run for the benefit of a few, rather than the greater good, rose from 29 percent to 69 percent.
Obviously, political leaders may not always be godly examples who lead us closer to God, but God still requires us to submit to them in the appropriate time and place.
In His infinite wisdom, Jesus told the Jews to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give unto God what is God’s (Mark 12:17). In other words, since Caesar’s image was on the denarius coin, the Jews owed their required taxes to Caesar. And, since they all bore the image of God, they owed their very lives to God. Thus, while Christians should be honest and upstanding citizens on earth, God will always be our ultimate authority.
You can find an example of serving God above political leaders in Daniel 6. Daniel was an official in the Persian government during the reign of King Darius, who issued a decree that prohibited anyone from praying for a period of 30 days. The punishment? Being thrown into the lions’ den.
But Daniel continued to pray to God three times a day because He knew that King Darius was not his ultimate authority. God was. And, although Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den, God sent an angel to save him.
Just as King Darius was under God’s authority, so today’s politicians are under God’s authority. Christians may not always agree with the government’s laws, but we are still required to be honest and respectful citizens. The Jewish tax system was corrupt, yet God still asked the Jews to comply with it.
When you see stories like Silver’s in the news, take heart knowing that our ultimate ruler is perfectly good, loving, honest and wise. And we will remain under His sovereign authority for eternity.