Some people woke up this past Wednesday morning feeling very hopeful and very happy; others woke up feeling disappointed and dejected.
You and I and a good deal of American citizens went to the polls on Tuesday. We went there and recorded our vote for a president—the leader of this mighty nation. And whether or not your guy won the election, I think it is important to take a few moments this morning to remind ourselves of our responsibilities to the civil government that God has ordained for us.
Let’s face it, politics can be dirty and destructive, and maddeningly frustrating to us, can’t they? But as Christians, we need to realize that God is not going to stay up late, anxiously waiting to hear how the count comes in. He is not going to be pacing the floors of heaven hoping that America makes the “right choice”. He is in control. And no matter who is president—our role as Christians is to support the government, to make a difference in the lives of others, and to be salt of the Earth and light of the world. Whoever God allows to become our president, we are to show him or her respect because we respect the office. We may struggle to respect the individual, but even still, we pay that person honor because we respect the God-ordained office. Because we respect God and His Will.
The apostle Paul outlined our responsibilities as Christians in the 12th chapter of Romans. He tells us that because we have trusted Christ as our Savior, we are not like the rest of the world (Romans 12:5). We seek to live at peace with everyone and we do good to those who mean us harm (Romans 12:14-17).
After Paul outlines our duties to God and to each other, he then turns a corner in Chapter 13 and says, “Now, let me address how a Christian should view his government.”
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:1-7)
We have certain duties that God has called us to maintain. Jesus reminds us of our responsibilities in Matthew 22 when he is confronted by the Pharisees, who were seeking to entrap him when they asked about submission to civil authority (in this case, the paying of taxes). Jesus answered them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Now remember, Jesus was not living under a benevolent ruler or a pleasant democracy. The Roman government supported and encouraged the spread of idolatry; it was a government that was as corrupt and evil as any since or before it. It was this government that would approve his own execution; the execution of a man they knew to be innocent. If ever there was a person that should have said, “Render to Caesar nothing!” It was Jesus. But what does he say? Jesus says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.” This is a clear mandate from Christ here to not confuse Christianity and politics, ladies and gentlemen.
The conditions, political or otherwise, that we live under here on this earth cannot dictate where we spend eternity. The government we live under the authority of has NO BEARING on our salvation, unless we let it.
No man, no law, no leader of men can affect our salvation, only we can affect it. Jesus knew this, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”. If we obey God, first and foremost, the type, or style or condition of the government we live under couldn’t matter less. Caesar was not worth worrying about to Christ. Caesar held no spiritual power over Christ. And let me tell you something that may ease your mind: no modern day Caesar is worth worrying about, either.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Let’s all take comfort in the fact that any government, whether good or corrupt, only rules at God’s pleasure here on earth; they do not rule absolutely, they do not rule over spiritual matters, nor do they rule without God’s permission.
— Paul Seely, November 11, 2012