Pray, Pay, Stay, And Obey

All too often people delude themselves, and others, into thinking that their only duties and obligations (aside from fairly tedious and often menial service duties) are the passive obligations of praying for the well being of leaders and organizations, paying tithes or taxes, showing up to services and meetings, and being a law-abiding citizen who follows the rules and knows their (subservient) place. Now, to be sure, the fairly passive duties of pray, pay, stay, and obey are certainly all important and vital, and necessary, but they are not sufficient to what God wants to do with us either in the civil or the religious sphere.

All too often organizations and societies that desire obedient slaves and those who want to be told what to do build up cultures that are focused on passive virtues, where leadership activities are limited to elites who are burdened with that responsibility for everyone, and everyone else is simply supposed to do as they are told, and not talk back or they get in trouble. I’m not someone who tends to handle such cultures and mindsets like that very successfully. I’m full of ideas on how things can be improved, or what needs to be done by somebody (not that I always want to do it myself), and I talk back when people show me disrespect. I give fair warning; I know I was born for more than taking orders from incompetent bullies, and I have little to no tolerance for those who like to throw their weight and show that they are big stuff by bossing others around.

We have to understand what God wants from us to be pleasing to Him. God has stated, explicitly, both to ancient Israel and to the Church that he wanted to make a holy nation and royal priesthood out of the least and the weak and the foolish and the former slaves, to (as he said in Psalm 113) take the poor out of the dust and seat him with princes. The point is that we are supposed to become somebody, even if we don’t start out well in our lives thanks to our personal background. All believers are the children of the King of the Universe, and that makes us princes and princesses, regardless of what status we rank in someone’s hierarchy chart. There is honor to be shown and responsibility to be given to all that gives all a place of respect.

Let us not forget that the whole purpose of offices in the church is for the maturation of the brethren (see Ephesians 4:11-16) so that ordinary members can grow into becoming teachers (see Hebrews 5:12). We are called while we are weak, base, and foolish (1 Corinthians 1:27-31), but we aren’t called to remain that way. To put the wise and noble to shame we have to become that way ourselves, and the glory of God in being able to turn the impure into pure, the base into noble, the low into high, puts to shame those who trust in their own wisdom and in their own power and majesty and neglect the God who is the source of all of their gifts. But that requires active work and the development of the talents that we have been given.

The same mindset that dwells in churches can easily seep into civil society. People assume that they are fulfilling their duties by merely paying their taxes and following their Homeowner’s Association Rules and driving close to the speed limit, without any sort of interest or awareness in the larger functioning of society and the need of people to look out for more than their own household and their own personal concerns. There is too much that needs to be done for us to abdicate our civic responsibilities to a corrupt and power-hungry elite, in whatever form that elite may come in. Those that wish to limit responsibility and input to a small and inbred group of elites neither know or care how much work needs to be done; they just want the power and the honor and the credit and the wealth and the glory and the respect to flow to them and not be given widely to others, lest its value be diluted.

This creates massive problems. It means that the necessary actions to keep an institution or society going become burdensome and unpleasant and unrewarding to the many who have to do them, since the rewards flow to a few. Without rewards, those necessary tasks simply do not get done, unless people get bribed to do what they should be doing already. And thus the corruption only becomes more endemic. And we are to blame, both for not taking responsibility for ourselves and letting corrupt elites handle such matters, but for preferring corrupt elites to growing into leadership and into doing a better job ourselves.

We have to take responsibility for the failure of our institutions, of our societies. If we have no leaders, whether of church or state, whether of literature or music or culture or business or science who are not hopelessly corrupt, then that is because we have failed in providing an alternative to such corruption. And though we can point fingers at other people for failing over and over again for decades in their roles, we have to point the finger at ourselves for letting them go unchecked without developing ourselves to replace such unworthy leaders with more godly ones, namely ourselves. We cannot assume that everything relies on us individually or as small groups, but at the same time we must accept responsibility. If all we are concerned is praying, paying, staying, and obeying–we will do a lot of those things to unworthy beings who present themselves as rivals of God instead of his servants and ministers (see Romans 13:1-7). But we cannot say that we were not warned, at least.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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13 Responses to Pray, Pay, Stay, And Obey

  1. Luzer says:

    The Duty To Vote Falls on Man

    Jesus, when He walked the Earth in the flesh, didn’t fall prey to Satan’s attempts to bribe Him with earthly power when the devil offered Him all of the world’s kingdoms.

    “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4: 8-10).

    Jesus didn’t correct the evil one by telling him that the kingdoms of this world were not his to offer. That is because Satan indeed is allowed for the present time to control, to a great extent, the political realm of this fallen planet.

    The fact that the God of all creation would not even consider such an offer of earthly power makes it more than certain that He would not lower himself to participate in a humanistic election.

    The answer to the question posed by the title of this article is, “No, Jesus would not vote Republican.” He would not vote, period!


    In the event of a world where no one voted then the conditions of the world would seriousely reflect that of what the world leaders ordained, while the individual “behavior” of the common people would reflect what sort of person each one is and thus it would be that much more easier to identify the true lovers of peace and liberty and those who are the opposers and slanders of that which is good and in line with God’s plan. I feel that I am not a zealot nor am I an anarchist, I am merely just as confused and sometimes frustrated by world conditions and as many, I feel helpless to do anything about it except , “pray” the leaders will eventually come to their senses and see that they are mere humans and not kings, while I “pay” my taxes so that I might “stay” alive long enough to help my immediate family and fellow humans with love, compasion, empathy and doing this this with humioty and without prejudice, and “obey” the laws that govern society at present while I await the day of the Lord.

    If I am merely an idealistic romantic then that is what i am but still I can report that many agree with this ideology and together we live in a relative peace and experience a liberty that supersedes all laws and dictates while we remain no threat to man, God, or even them who disagree with this paradigm.

    • You greatly err. First off, you falsely assume that Jesus Christ’s refusal to be be elected means something different than it does. Jesus Christ’s refusal to bow down to Satan reflected the fact that he was the Creator of the world (see John 1:1-12) and so therefore he has a claim to legitimacy that does not demand him to take power through a coup or through an election. Human beings are not so fortunate. You seem, like many pietists, to assume that somehow a vote is less legitimate than being born into a royal family or taking power through a coup d’etat. This is incorrect, and worse, sin, in that it leads you to directly pervert the scriptures to support your laziness and lack of civic virtue. You (and others) bemoan the decline of civilization while having a high-minded self-righteousness in avoiding any participation in what you view as the corruption of democracy. You (and others of your ilk) receive the governments you richly deserve.

  2. Luzer says:

    That is a hard pill to swallow but I am the type to take harsh criticism as a way to growth, and for this, I can say thank you for the lift. I must learn to shut my mouth until I can see what type of person I am. Today I have been again humbled and until I learn more about what type I really am I will just continue to seek growth in quiet solitude. I never thought of myself as pietistic or self-righteous but then again who really knows? I do know that I have had a very difficult time with this life and I see that my difficulties are not over and perhaps the real hard part is in the future yet. I suppose the truth is that I am as confused as anyone; and maybe I should stop pretending (or trying so hard) to be something that I am not, thanks again. Point taken and I hope for my soul that the Lord will forgive me for my foolishness.

    • This is a subject I am very ferocious about, and it is also a subject that strikes very close to home. Pietism itself amounts to an avoidance of civic duties with the (misguided) belief that involvement in the world and in its institutions is automatically corrupt and so therefore all a believer should be involved with is personal salvation. It is a purely slave mentality–work hard, keep your head down, follow orders, and don’t make waves. This is a mindset that is deeply offensive to me personally, and I attack it fiercely and vigorously. It would be good to find out if that’s what you mean by it or if you mean something different? As I said, we ought not to think as if the survival of the world depends on us, for God’s plans are far broader than we can understand, but at the same time, what God wants us to do includes all realms of human activity, including politics, which should not be left only to the corrupt.

  3. Luzer says:

    I know there are more people like me who do not understand politics or religion. I will take the wise words of Proverbs to heart from now on.

    Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:28

    • There are plenty of people who don’t understand politics or religion–that doesn’t make one a bad person. It just so happens that I am passionately interested in both of those subjects, much to my own hazard.

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