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Core Message: Jurisdictions

While the word “jurisdiction” has its roots as a legal term, the concept is quite broad in its application, as it pertains to both how we live our lives and the subsequent effect this has on society. To understand jurisdictions is to understand the spheres of responsibility within our personal lives and the greater community. Since responsibility and, in turn, problem solving and justice, are essential parts of life, the concept of jurisdictions is universal. The Bible provides the framework for five primary jurisdictions (spheres of government or responsibility):

The 5 Jurisdictions of Government:

  1. Individual
  2. Family
  3. Church/Religious Institutions
  4. Commercial/Economic Marketplace
  5. Civil

These jurisdictional areas are connected and interdependent yet also independent. Rarely is there only one jurisdiction operating in any given situation. Each area carries its own set of rights and responsibilities and serves specific functions in our lives. These defined roles inherently give rise to limitations. Limitations, boundaries, and guidelines establish the framework of commitments which are essential for healthy relationships. As we have often said, “Love runs on rails.”

For many, “authority” and “government” are negative words; it is commonly perceived that authority is the antithesis to freedom. However, true freedom is walking in and understanding one’s rights and responsibilities as a human being and how that interacts with the community structures and the culture at large.

Every jurisdiction and realm of responsibility starts with the individual. True freedom is found in self-governance. If we fail to govern ourselves, a ripple effect of consequence radiates into society. As individuals, we are responsible for governing our thoughts, choices, and behavior. (Key Scriptures: Proverbs 25:28; Proverbs 16:32; 1 Timothy 3:5 Luke 17:20-21)

After individual responsibility, and in tandem with raising children, is the realm of family. The family unit is the basic building block of society. Healthy families create healthy societies; unhealthy or broken families outwardly effect society with an overflow of issues. Strong families built on the bedrock of healthy marriages serve as the cornerstone of our lives and ministry to all other areas. The responsibilities of the family jurisdiction include generational transfer (knowledge, vision, wealth), nurture and care, values, procreation, and discipline. (Key Scriptures: Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Malachi 4:46)

The next sphere of responsibility is the church and religious institutions. The church’s role is to be the pillar, grounding, and embodiment of truth. Its responsibilities include pastoral care, restoration, healing, equipping, community/corporate worship, and care for the poor, widows, and orphans. The church is called to equip the saints for the work of service, minister to the poor and needy (standing in the gap for broken families), and provide ongoing spiritual training for the people to function as an ekklesia. (Key Scriptures: Ephesians 4; Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Timothy 3:15)

Following the church is the realm of business, marketplace, and monetary-fiscal policy jointly managed between civil government and the private banking systems. Its ability to function well is based on the foundation of the character of the individuals and families engaging in it. Healthy people and families produce healthy economies and marketplace community. The stewardship of private property, a godly work ethic, and an entrepreneurial spirit grounded in love for others are essential for personal and societal maturity. This arena’s responsibilities include commerce, resource management/stewardship, contract laws (agreements), and property. (Key Scriptures: Exodus 20:15-17; Proverbs 10:2; 11:4; 23:4; 27:23-27; Luke 19.13; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 7:4-10; I Corinthians 9:6-10)

The last and final realm of responsibility is that of civil government. Its purpose and responsibilities include protecting life, liberty (freedom of religion) and the property of all individuals (via criminal law and justice system) by punishing evildoers and encouraging the righteous; maintaining law, order, justice, and righteousness in the society and around the family structure; ensuring domestic tranquility; securing liberty and providing for the common defense. (Key Scriptures: 1 Timothy 2:1-2; Deuteronomy 16:18-20; Isaiah 1:23: Ezekiel 45:9-12; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14)

Civil government is designed to be virtually unobtrusive to most people. If we are law-abiding citizens going about our own business, we should hardly be aware of the state. Only in an upside-down world is the civil government the primary and first provider and regulator instead of the family!

Being aware of the jurisdictional roles provides a clear blueprint for building and maintaining a healthy society and solving problems effectively. When we recognize who is responsible for what, we can better work to resolve the root causes and enable each realm to support one another in their roles. (Click HERE for short video on Jurisdictional Problem Solving)

Conversely, when these principles and roles are not understood or ignored, it leads to tyranny and misuse of roles and responsibilities. Tyranny is when one of the jurisdictions usurps or takes away the responsibility or obligations of another sphere, hindering them from doing their job and impeding the boundaries of their authority. Tyranny is reciprocal and has a two-way effect. If one realm of government usurps another, it becomes unable to fulfill its God-ordained role due to misdirected resources and the restraints of another jurisdiction.

The consequence of this can be seen no more clearly than in the case of the office of civil government’s accumulation of power. For many countries, civil government has overstepped regulation and responsibility that should rightly be in the hands of individuals and families.

When functioning as God designed, jurisdictions produce a culture and climate of personal responsibility, supportive and effective community, and ultimately, sustainable prosperity.

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