“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.” Religion and politics…maybe they are not so taboo. Our allegiance to God doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t be good citizens, neither should being a good citizen trump our allegiance to God.
We have a duty to both the state and to God. What Caesar requires of us irrelevant unless it interferes with our duty to God. Paul doesn’t tell us what to do when the two collide…when they are in conflict, but we have a few biblical examples. We already talked about Daniel and the lions’ den (Daniel 6). Another one from the book of Daniel is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how they handled Nebuchadnezzar’s command to worship the golden statue (For Veggie Tales fans: Rack, Shack and Benny…and the chocolate bunny) (Daniel 3). When the choice is between obeying God or obeying man, we have to choose to obey God (Acts 5.28-29). If you, as a Christian, are asked to do something that violates the Word of God, you should say “no”, but you should do so respectfully and then be prepared to face the consequences. Just like Daniel and his buddies. And just like Christian martyrs have done throughout the centuries.
Fundamentally the question is: where is our hope? Is our hope in an earthly kingdom, a political system that no matter how good it is is doomed to fail because of sin, or in the unshakeable kingdom that Jesus brings? Are we looking for an earthly king to save us, or are we looking for the King who has already saved us?
And as those who follow Jesus, how do we engage the culture? What does it mean to live and love like Jesus? What’s our responsibility? First and foremost to remember that Jesus is our only Hope and our King. We have to remember who we are and whose we are. So we don’t give up (persecution, etc.), we don’t give in (conform) because we know that Jesus wins. And knowing that…We as followers of Jesus are called to submit to the governing authorities (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2) because we know that God has placed them there. We are to be markedly law-abiding, even down to the traffic laws and paying taxes. To be good citizens.
And we are to pray…PRAY, PRAY, PRAY…prayer is our greatest weapon in spiritual warfare. Make no mistake…as Paul says, our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers, against the rulers, against the spiritual forces in heavenly places…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Pray first. Ask God for wisdom. And then follow His lead. Let Him fight for you. Let Him make a way where there may not seem to be one. He can…He will…but even if He doesn’t, He’s still God. And remember what Paul said to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, for prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2.1-2).
We might also need to confess our pride and our sinful attitudes…conversations, statements and responses that have reflected more fear than faith, more of my kingdom than God’s kingdom.
We now have a new president…Joe Biden…for whom we are called to pray and be in subjection to his authority. May not be easy to do, especially if he wasn’t your candidate. But we have to trust it’s God’s good and acceptable and perfect will. He’s still in control. Just as He was when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stepped into a fiery furnace. Just as He was when Daniel was lowered into a lions’ den. Just as He was when Jesus was nailed to a cross.
This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster