“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
Keep your behavior excellent among the gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:11-17)
I’ve been attending Twin Falls City Council meetings over the past 15 years as matters arise that I believe I want to understand better of what is going on or to speak for or against proposed ordinances.
Recently, over the past month, I’ve been attending weekly to see if what is being reported in traditional media and social media is accurate.
If all one was doing was responding accordingly to all media (traditional or social) reports, one would think Evil Kinevel was in town to jump the Snake River.
At every city council meeting the public is given an opportunity to speak about any matter of interest to the city council. Wow, this is an amazing country we live in. Every citizen has an opportunity to address any issue of interest on a weekly basis. WOW.
I’ve been attending Twin Falls City Council meetings the past several weeks primarily to listen. Over the years I have spoken out, for and against, on matters that I think I must speak toward. I’ve learned that I must exercise discipline in the liberty to do so and resist the tendency to abuse my liberty.
I have a personal code of conduct for how I engage in the public square. Here are some suggestions I have and lessons I’ve learned.
- I am responsible to the Lord for every word I say.
- I represent myself, my wife, my church (by the nature of being the pastor), my Lord.
- I am responsible to respect the authority of those I am before.
- My attire will be in respect of honor due to those I’m addressing.
- I go prepared to be a blessing to civil magistrates.
- I go prepared to obey every rule of fair engagement given by those in authority.
- Every word I speak at a public meeting to public officials are subject to public domain and may be interpreted and reported differently than I think I deliver my words.
- I write out my intent of what I intend to say so I am sure to say something of value and avoid looking foolish.
- I expect to be limited by time at all public hearing meetings. (usually 2 – 5 minutes is my experience.)
Five things are sure:
- I pray for my government leaders and appreciate the duty they have to serve all residents, even the residents I disagree with.
- A bad government is better than no government.
- When a right is given to the citizens to speak and address matters of interest, followers of Christ must especially exercise that right with boldness and with respect .
- If I can live in a pluralistic community such as this with peace, I can do the same without fear of a Muslim neighbor so long as my government does not impose religious tests on any of us.
- Where I want my local government to be fully aware of the danger of open immigration I will take up my Gospel duty for every people group in my home town.
In conclusion; to the Gospel plow, sometimes that plowing work takes us through public forum meetings like city council, state legislation, national hearings. When that happens, we must be the same principled, disciplined, duty obeying followers of Christ. When the fever pitch of emotion begins to boil take a deep breath, bless the Lord for His grace, speak boldly, be respectful, honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the [government] but don’t put down your gospel plow, don’t waste the day, don’t waste words spoken with unvetted, undisciplined, dishonorable emotions.