The last 2+ years, especially in the light of Covid-19 and its accordant issues, have found the issue of “government overreach” on the minds, lips and keyboards of many. It’s only natural given how various governmental bodies have responded. And that, both secularly and ecclesiastically. After all, we’re “Americans.” Beyond that, as the title of Carl Trueman’s book indicates – we live in the age of “The Rise and Triumph of The Modern Self”, with its leading feature of “Expressive Individualism.”
Now how each authority structure in our American context (good, bad or indifferent) dealt with the crisis, both inside and outside of the Church will probably be debated for years to come. There will be inevitable ripple effects. But I’m not as interested in what various governments or authorities did or did not do during this strange and trying time as I am in what none of them CAN do. Where no overreach from any body has any power. And this is spelled out for us in the 5th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Church at Galatia.
He puts it this way: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23.
So catch this – and let your thoughts run away with it: There is NO authoritarian body, of any stripe, that has the power to enact any law or enforce in any way – a prohibition of walking in the Spirit. There is no form of government overreach which can prevent the Believer from walking in love. From living joyfully. From being at peace. From being filled with long-suffering. From being kind, upright, loyal, gentle or self-controlled. None.
These are not only inviolable rights because of Christ, they are inviolable acts. Indeed, the only force which can keep us from living fully in these – is our own sin. Our own rebellion against the rightful authority of the Spirit in our lives.
So maybe, just maybe, if we were more concerned about this reality, we simply wouldn’t be very distressed by the other. Maybe if we were seeking to live more fully in the rights and privileges of the Spirit which no external power on earth can overreach to prevent, we wouldn’t think the petty things the authorities can impose or restrict – much of anything at all.
Make me wear a mask? Big deal. You can’t rob me of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, uprightness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control. Not only is there no law against these – there CAN’T be because of Christ.
No long arm of any entity can reach here.
And that, needs to be the Christian’s concern, above all others.