"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:1-4)The term "Christian" differs in usage from that of "Jew" in that it refers to our religion rather than our national origin. The term "Jew" identifies someone both by their religion and the nation from which they descend. A "Jew" is both national and religious where a "Christian" is merely religious. As Christians, we live in the context of our own nation with its own political structures and systems. There is no such thing as a Christian nation, merely Christians that live within the boundaries of an existing nation. As such, Paul encourages Christians to pray for their nations and those who lead them that they might lead tranquil and quiet lives and serve God freely without fear or oppression.
I believe that, here, Paul provides the clearest plan and purpose of God for nations and those who rule them. I believe that, just as God created the institutions of marriage and the church, so He established nations and institutionalized governments. While each nation may have its own form of government, I believe that God established government to ensure the peaceful life of its citizens; that they may be able to freely pursue happiness and godliness as their conscience should direct them. As such, a nation and its government should 1) provide for the defense against enemies foreign and domestic 2) defend the rights and property of individuals and 3) provide for equity in justice. It is my belief that government is not to provide for the welfare of a nation or to enforce a moral code upon a nation, rather to provide the environment of peace and security where those who choose to, and according to their individual industry, might prosper and that everyone might be free, according to their own conscience, to pursue righteousness and godliness with all dignity and freedom.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, many governments have either forgotten or never understood their God given responsibilities or purposes and have either abdicated their roles or overreached to become the all-in-all for their nation. The state has taken over the role of the church and subjugated the role of the family in an attempt to become the savior of the nation; attempting to be to the nation what only God can be to a people. It is time for government to retreat to its God given limits and for believer to rise up and support their government through prayers, supplications, and thanksgiving. Paul makes it clear what we should pray for for our leaders, that they would come to a knowledge of the truth and to the blessings of salvation. In most countries today, we as individuals still have our individual civic responsibilities as it comes to the selection of our governors and the passing of legislative laws, but as believers, we also have the responsibility to pray for the spiritual salvation, health, and enlightenment of our leaders that, if God should so grant, we might be lead by godly and righteous men and women. Such prayer, along with thanksgiving for the leaders and country God has given us, is the portion and responsibility of all christian citizens of earthly nations.