Are You Loyal to the Government?

Pastor's Ponderings IllustrationBible Readings for the day: Psalm 89:38-45, Romans 13:1-14, 1 Chronicles 7:1-9:1a
Meditational Reading: Romans 13:1-7
1  Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
3  For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
4  for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
5  Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
6  For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
7  Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (ESV)

Are you loyal to the government?  Do you like the President?  Are you a Republican or a Democrat?  Politics and religion don’t mix.

A few questions and a statement.  Paul, through the working of God the Holy Spirit, confronts us with our relationship with our government.  Do we like our government?  Do we like our leaders in government?  Those of us who live in the United States often have strong feelings about the government and those who govern us.  Do we like the President?  Do we love the President?  Do we hate the President?  I am sure that the Christians of Rome, who first read Paul’s letter, had similar thoughts and feelings about their government.

A few things hit me as I read today’s meditational reading:

  • Paul is writing about a pagan governing authority.  There were no Christian rulers in the First Century.
  • Government was instituted by God for our protection.  If left to our devices, we would descend into anarchy.  The strong would dominate the weak, taking what they want, when they want.  God instituted government for our own good, to protect us from ourselves.  In the words of the great (Lutheran) apologist, John Warwick Montgomery, “God instituted government so that we wouldn’t eat each other.”
  • In the United States, our allegiance is not to a person but to a document.  I still remember when I joined the Army (fresh out of high school, back in 1972) that I took the oath of enlistment.  That oath reads, “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
  • What happens when the governing authorities order us to do something that is contrary to God’s clearly revealed Word?  The Sanhedrin, the governing authority for all Jews in the Roman Empire, ordered the apostles to stop preaching the Name of Jesus.  Peter, speaking for all of the apostles, responded, “We must obey God rather than men.”  (Acts 5:29).  There does come a time when God’s perfect, revealed Law takes precedence over human law.

All of this being said, God has called us to be his people in a post-Christian society.  The good old days are done and gone.  We are in a time remarkably similar to that of Peter and Paul in the First Century.  God still wants us to be his people in this time and place, bringing his good news of the full and free forgiveness of our sins in and through Jesus and his death and resurrection.  As God’s people, that is our task:  to bring Jesus to people who are dying and going to hell without him.

Finally, if they are so called, Christians should run for political office.  But if they run, they shouldn’t run away from their beliefs, their beliefs formed by the Word of God, the Bible, in order to be elected.  They should embrace those beliefs, communicate those beliefs, live those beliefs.

No matter what our station in life, as Christians we are called to be God’s people where we are, even in a post-Christian culture, especially in a post-Christian culture.

A prayer:  Lord God Holy Trinity, you have instituted government for our good, for our protection.  May those who govern us recognize that they have received their authority from you and govern accordingly.  May they keep evil doers in check and protect those who need protection.  This I pray in Jesus’ Name.  Amen!

Should you wish to access Pastor Kerner’s sermon archive, you can do so at https://gslcsuffield.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/sermon-archive-2010-2011/

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 585 South St. (Route 75), Suffield CT 06078 USA  http://www.gslcsuffield.com  Should you wish to support this ministry, you can mail a check to the church.

If you liked this post in any way, please think about sharing it on your social media sites.  This is an effective way to evangelize on the internet.  You can also friend me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.kerner

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