There is a prevailing mindset in the church that maybe God would prefer us not to have good government because that will bring about persecution and persecution will strengthen the church. If bad government benefits the church then it is contradictory that God would exhort us to “Pray first of all, for kings and all those in high positions that we might lead peaceful and quiet lives in all dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, italics mine).
Perhaps even more significant to the problem of knowing God’s will for government is how much of the church is praying together corporately in the first place. The early church of Acts was “of one mind and one spirit” (Acts 2:44, Acts 4:32). They knew God’s will and were united in what that looked like because they sought His face continually. When you’re all truly hearing from the Lord, the message is the same!
When we pray for government it isn’t because therein lies salvation. It is because government affects nearly every aspect of our lives. When legislation, for example, like California’s AB-2943 takes effect it isn’t just an attack on the church, but on all citizens and their liberty. California’s proposed law is actually lawlessness, and lawlessness is bad for everyone, in or outside the church. It demoralizes individuals, sanctions corruption, and ultimately leads to spiritual and material poverty.
A key example of this extreme lawlessness was the “bathroom bill”, which several of us from my church, including my pastor, opposed by going to the State Capitol for a rally. Had that gone into effect, as a mother I would be potentially in a position in which I had to choose between protecting my two little girls, which is my prime directive as a parent, and being “law-abiding.” Had a guy ever come into the girls’ locker room at the gym or a public bathroom I don’t think I’d be spiritual enough not to react in a way that didn’t send at least one of us either to jail or to the ER.
Romans 13:1-5 tells us the purpose of government is to promote righteousness and punish wickedness. So if a government is doing the opposite, as forces in this nation are attempting, we are left with a rogue government.
Persecution can come through various means and at many levels. We don’t need our government to punish law-abiding citizens and promote law that restricts the gospel to refine the church; we saw students in Oregon murdered for their faith and a country church in Texas massacred. Righteous law for the unborn and for God-given sexuality might in fact lead to a backlash that sees violence against Christians. But fundamentally, we do not want the demoralizing consequences of lawlessness in our government, nor do I think the Bible instructs us to seek it.
Even the Apostle Paul himself twice invoked his Roman citizenship as a protest to lawless treatment by magistrates (Acts 16:37; Acts 22:25-29). Paul did not simply close his mouth and submit himself to lawless treatment even when spreading the gospel.
The Bible also says quite a lot about how the nations will be judged for their responses to Israel. Jesus described different degrees of judgment for varying cities, and it is further evidence that God cares for and responds on a national level, not merely individual.