Many Iranian Christians think that we must take a bold stand for humanity, human rights, and justice, since we are made in God’s image. As stewards of God’s creation, we have authority over creation for the sake of others, but we should not use violence or conceal sin with sin. Instead, we should loudly speak the truth of the Bible because Christ builds His church, and the Bible cautions us not to rely on kings (Ps. 146:3). Even our enemies are made in God’s image. God gave leaders their authority; therefore, we should ordinarily submit to them (see Rom. 13:1–2). When authorities disobey God’s Word, however, we must obey Christ. When we must defy state authority to follow Christ, we preach the gospel and call them to repentance.
No regime can stop God’s sovereign will or obstruct His plans, which He ordained for His own glory. He will accomplish His good purposes (see Isa. 46). There is a time when God brings kings and removes them (Eccl. 3:1; Dan. 2:21). We must not forget that God alone “executes judgment” (Ps. 75:7) because “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Dan. 4:17). This helps us see that God uses even politics and wicked rulers to fulfill His purposes. That is why Westminster Confession of Faith 23.1 assures Christians that “God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under him, over the people, for his own glory, and the public good.” We Christians are confident that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Even when corrupt persons misuse their governmental position, we can be Christ followers in this world, for God is working for His own glory and the good of His people.
We must also realize that our government cannot save us—only God can save. In the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles never instructed the church to transform pagan government via political administration. The Apostles instead stated that the church is to proclaim the gospel.
Our goal, even during protests, is the pure teaching and preaching of the Word of God. When Christians equate Christ’s kingdom expansion and influence with government policies, they distort the church’s ministry and purpose. Our Christian mission is to proclaim the gospel and preach against sin. Only when Christ transforms the culture will the culture change. Throughout two thousand years of church history, believers have survived and lived even under pagan rulers, all the while knowing that they, and not their government or society, were the world’s light and salt (Matt. 5:13–16). They honored, respected, and prayed for their leaders as Paul instructed (Rom. 13:1–8), and they left a great example for us to have hope in God’s protection alone.
Jesus Christ alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). His death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:19) are what we need to believe and proclaim. While we pray for the people of Iran and their freedom, we fix our eyes on Christ, who is the source of our peace, satisfaction, hope, and joy, because “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Ps. 127:1–2).