“Democracy”. What a wonderful word. Simple, direct, the combination of two Greek words, a foundational term in the American experiment…
…and a word that no longer means what it actually means.
Demos: the people; Cracy: the rulers
“Democracy” means to be ruled by the people. That’s it, that’s all. It means that the citizens of a nation have assumed responsibility for it. They are the governors, the leaders, the Arch-ists, the ones who ensure that whatever their country stands for is upheld and maintained.
Recently, folks have gotten the word “Democracy” confused with freedom. Sorry, wrong! To be part of a “Democracy” means that you agree to be subject to the rules you and your fellow citizens lay down. It means you pay taxes, drive on the agreed upon side of the road, conduct your business dealings and private life according to the appropriate laws and live by the terms laid out in whatever constitution upon which your “Democracy” was founded.
Living in a “Democracy” does not mean you can do whatever the heck you please. It does not mean your government is out to get you. It does not mean that you can ignore the laws or regulations your leaders have established.
Whoops! Let me rephrase that.
“Democracy” does not mean you can ignore the laws or regulations YOU, as part of the “demos” that is the “cracy” of your nation, have established.
To live in a “Democracy” means that you are responsible for the governance of yourself and your fellow citizens. Nobody is exempt. Nobody is above the law. You and the other members of your democratic community share the responsibility of ruling your nation.
For people following Jesus, it’s more complex. There’s another layer to our governance that supersedes whatever form of government our nation has in place. That extra layer is the reign of Christ. We are bound first and foremost to Jesus, not our governments. As long as the laws of the land follow the heart of Christ, we are to obey them. When we have some say in the law of the land, as we do in our democratic nation, we are to see that they are written in a way that honours Christ-like values. When those laws do not follow His values, we are called to resist them and try to change them from within the system.
The beauty of our democratic system is that it gives us the freedom to worship as we see fit. Worshipping God within the Christian context, however, binds us to Christ. Being bound to Christ gives us the best life possible regardless of what type of government rules our physical bodies. As much as possible we are to follow the law of the land, as long as it does not contradict Christ’s rule of love, mercy and compassion.
It is a wonderful thing that our democracy gives us a say in our government.
It’s even more wonderful that through Christ, what we have to say is holy, loving and blessed.