God’s repeated test of the integrity of a people’s faith is their care for widows, orphans, and strangers, for those who are outside their normal realm of association. This is the second aspect of this commandment. To love our neighbor as ourselves is to show as great a concern for their welfare, rights, and reputation as for our own. To love our neighbor as ourselves means to respect our neighbor’s marriage and its sanctity (“Thou shalt not commit adultery”); his life (“Thou shalt not kill”); his property (“Thou shalt not steal”); his reputation (“Thou shalt not bear false witness”); and to do this in word, thought, and deed (“Thou shalt not covet...”).
What this means is very clear. Beyond a very limited sphere, judgment is the province of God. A godless state will assume more and more of the prerogatives of God and assume powers of judgment over all of life. Because we are not God, for us the decisive power in society must be the regenerating power of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us. Not revolution but regeneration, not coercion but conversion, is our way of changing the world and furthering the Kingdom of God. This is the heart of Christian reconstruction. The heart of Biblical law is that it makes us the basic government of society in and through our personal and family life, through our vocations, churches, and schools. In Biblical law, civil government is a very limited and minor sphere of rule and power.
No society can be healthy if the people are not strong in their faith. A strong state means a weak people. The various civil governments of the world are all strong and over-bearing in their power because the peoples are weak in the faith. Statist power grows to fill a vacuum in government created by the irresponsibility of the people. When men say of their Lord, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14), they are inviting anarchy. The Book of Judges describes such a time. Men had rejected God as their king, and, because “In those days there was no king in Israel” God having been denied, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
When men do that which is right in their own eyes, when they deny Christ our King and His law-word, then their word and their group becomes the source of determination for them. Men then act humanistically and are determined by their group, not the Lord. Our governing allegiance must be to Jesus Christ and His reign, not to our Catholic or Protestant churches.
Our faith can rarely surpass our allegiance. If our allegiance is Presbyterian, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, or what have you, we are small men indeed, and our “faith” a warped one at best. Churches like persons must be instruments in the hand of God, not the centers of our lives. We can and must respect the instruments, but we warp the faith if we are not God-centered.