Posts Tagged ‘government’

Luke 20:20-26 — Have you, as a guy, ever been asked this question by your wife or girlfriend, “Does this dress make me look fat?” This question is the killer of all husband/boyfriend questions. There is no right answer to this question. Run. Run away! It is almost as bad as “Do you think she is pretty?” Run, boy, run. Most of us men are simple. We just want food, clothing, shelter, and sex. All of the other things in life are just window dressing, what has to be done to make women happy. For men, if the basic needs of life are met, life is good. These types of no-win questions leave us in stunned, fumbling silence. Uh, well, ummm is the usual response. I only mention the glorious differences between men and women that make the world go round here because the no-win question plays a role in our Scripture lesson this morning.

Another example would be from the fictional series, Star Trek. The Kobayashi Maru test. It is a no-win scenario.The notional primary goal of the exercise is to rescue the civilian vessel Kobayashi Maru in a simulated battle with the Klingons. The disabled ship is located in the Klingon Neutral Zone, and any Starfleet ship entering the zone would cause an interstellar incident. The approaching cadet crew must decide whether to attempt rescue of the Kobayashi Maru crew – endangering their own ship and lives – or leave the Kobayashi Maru to certain destruction and avoid an incident that could cause all-out war with the Klingons. No win scenario.

The temple leaders try to put Jesus in the position of husbands everywhere with the Do I Look Fat In This Dress scenario or the dread of star fleet officer cadets everywhere with the Kobayashi Maru scenario. The no win scenario. First, they flatter Him with compliments about his teaching and then they lower the boom. They ask him the apparently no-win scenario question. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Whoa, tough question. If Jesus agrees that Roman taxation is right, then perhaps they can turn public opinion against Jesus with the same vehemence with which tax collectors are hated. But if, as they suspect, Jesus secretly despises the Romans’ right to occupy Israel and place burdensome taxes on its citizens, perhaps they can get him to say something that can be construed as rebellion against Rome. Perhaps they can paint Jesus as a Zealot, one who fights to free Israel from Roman domination. It is a trick question, all right!

As in the tale of the USS Enterprise crew, where Captain Kirk redesigned the program of the no-win situation to come out the Kobayashi Maru test as a winner, Jesus gives the most amazing answer. His answer silenced the leaders. They could not use what He said against them. It was brilliant. Render unto Caesar what is Caesars and render unto God what is God’s. The unimpeachable answer is given. But what does it mean for us today. What does it mean for our lives today that we can put into practice in our daily lives.

Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s. There are so many things to say about this one statement. First, we have a duty to support our governments because they have been placed over us for a reason. In Jesus’ day, Israel had become a conquered nation because man-made designs but because Israel was paying the consequences of becoming a godless nation. Under David and Solomon the nation had become mighty and strong. They had become self-centered and self-indulgent and had pushed God aside. He allowed their self-indulgence to make them weak and they became conquered by successive empires of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and now Rome. God created the idea of government to organize people. He condones the idea of government. We have a legitimate obligation to both God and the government. Government serves as an organizing point to society and we have an obligation to support it. God is a God of order and not of disorder. His Word is consistent and true and non-contradictory. It is simply part of His character. Government then is God condoned as a way to establish an orderly society.

The point here to remember is that the two, Caesar and God, are not necessarily always at odds with each other. If our government is run by Christ followers and those seeking to do what is morally and spirtually right, then we have as our duty to support that. We should support our government when its ways are reflective of God’s way. We were not born to live in disorder so when our governments are seeking to reflect the character of God by its actions (whether the leaders are saved or not) then we have an obligation to support it. It is only when our government is at opposition with the character of God that we must place our duty to God over our duty to government.

In nations where there is no democracy that may mean to work passionately, compassionately, and diligently to change the ruling government through its replacement or through changing it from the inside out. In nations where there is a democratically elected government, we must seek out at the ballot box to change the government’s path by voting en masse for those whose candidacies appear most to reflect the character of God. What it does not entitle us to do is to withdraw from government and complain about the direction it is heading. What it does is to call us to action when our government becomes godless. We must wage war at the ballot box. 82% of Americans claim to be Christian. However, only 48% of all eligible American voters participate in elections. Therefore, a lot of Christians stay home on election day. How can we claim that our government is out of control and is less than godly when we do not participate in the process. Why do we complain that there are no godly candidates out there when we do not run for office. People will elect from the choices that they have. When they do not have Christ-like choices, we get godless governments.

Jesus avoided the no-win scenario, because, well, He is God and as a result He is kind of a good debater! LOL. In his answer, he says that He is not a rebel intent on destroying Rome but He did not jump into Rome’s lap either by what He said. He is saying you decide. Look at your government. Is it aligned with God’s character. Then we have an obligation to support it if it is. If your government is one that has become the antithesis of God’s character, then we must always stick with God. If we see the current state of affairs in our government as in opposition to God’s Word such as in matters of marriage, abortion, welfare, etc., we must rise up at the ballot box. We must rise up and run for office. We must change the government instead of watching it slide down the slope. Much deeper than that, we must no longer be closet Christians. We must be out in the world sharing the gospel daily to a nation that needs to know Him. A godless government is a reflection of its people in a democratic society. We must not be content to keep the gospel to ourselves. We must share it. We must live lives that draw others unto Him. We must tell the story of Jesus so that others will come to know Him as Savior. With each person that comes to Christ our nation begins to more reflect the character of God. When our nation reflects the character of God, our government eventually will too.

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Romans 13:1-7 — Obedience to authority. Wow, this passage is a tough one. In a day and age where governments seem to be growing more and more hostile to Christian values, this one is a really tough one. What is Paul really saying to us here.

First, I think that Paul is saying that we should not be the origin of disobedience or evil in society. As Christ followers, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard than that of general society. We should obey the laws of our society whenever possible. We should not blatantly disobey laws for our own advantage. For example, we should pay our taxes and be honest in preparing our tax returns of any kind. We should apply Christian principles in our dealings with one another and with our government at whatever level. We should apply God’s law and Christian values in our day to day living and in our dealing with governments. May it never be said of us Christ followers that we are not open, honest, and transparent in our dealings with society at large or with our government. The hallmark of Christian character has to be integrity. Thus, we should not be examples of those who simply disobey the law because it is to our advantage, or that we are lazy, or that we might gain some edge by not obeying the law.

Second, I think it is a call to us to do more than complain about our government. If we as Christians are so dissatisfied with government and its policies, let’s mobilize and elect leaders who have Christian values. Let’s mobilize and run for office at the local, regional, state, and national levels. You see all over Facebook how my fellow Christians and often myself decry the loss of values in our nation. We often decry that our society has gone to crap. We often decry how our elected officials are doing wrong and we act like they were magically appointed over us. We talk about they instead of us. We act has if we had played no part in electing officials. We take this detached view that “they” are taking our rights away, “they” are abridging my freedoms. How did “they” get into this position? They were elected. They were not appointed. We, as in the general populous, elected them. We act like people in Washington are this evil dictatorship, but they were ELECTED by us. It is time for us as Christians to engage our society. We are not giving them any alternatives than dirty rotten scoundrels. We are not running for office. We are just sitting back and complaining and allowing evil to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we don’t take this thing seriously, our rights will be abridged. If we don’t influence government from the inside, how can we sit here and complain about same-sex marriage, about lost freedoms, about the expansion of government into areas not intended by the constitution. If we don’t run for office in droves at all levels, we cannot change the direction of our government. It is not a they thing. It is a lack of options for our voters. Let’s return our government to Christian values by being city councilmen, by being commissioners, by being county councilmen, by being mayor, by being state representatives, by being state senators, by being governor, by being senators, by being president. Let us give the voters alternatives. Without alternatives, voters have a choice between two immoral and non-Christian candidates, what do you think our government is going to look like. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you are going to keep getting what you get. If we as Christians are doing nothing, how do we expect the government to change. We can no longer sit in our ivory towers and decry what is happening to our government. We must do more than sit behind our fences and comment on society. We must get out there an actively change it for the better. Talk. Talk. Talk. It is just that. Action. Action. Action not words!

Finally, if government has gone too far and abuses its power and is oppressive. If it has gone too far and we are not able to change it from within. What then? Do we obey governments when they are killing their own citizens. Do we obey governments when they are imprisoning people for no reason and without trial? Do we hand over sermons to a city government that disagrees with our opposition to their gay agenda? Do we obey that which is blatantly evil. As we see in my writing here, there are progressive levels. We are not to create anarchy ourselves. We should never be the origin of the reasons to disobey government. Next, if we don’t like our government we should change it and influence it from the inside. What if none of that works. What if being Christian involves being imprisoned and persecuted for no other reason than being Christian? What if we find ourselves living under a dictator who is hell bent on raping his country and oppressing his people for his own personal gain and preservation. In these cases, I think Paul expects to hold ourselves to God’s standards in how we act ourselves. I think Paul expects us to measure our governments in this way, too. If governments are disrespecting basic human dignity, disrepecting human rights, treating people as if they are not made in the image of God by treating them like vermin, killing them if they do deny their faith in Jesus Christ, we must oppose governments. We must do so in peaceful ways however. We must be willing to be martyrs for our beliefs. We must not return evil with evil. We must be willing to die rather renounce Jesus. Maybe, through our willingness to die for Jesus’ name brings glory to God and brings change to society. Martin Luther King and Gandhi changed their worlds more with their peaceful protests and principled action that by anything the Black Panthers here or Indian militants there ever did. We stand firm. We help others who are oppressed. We do so through peaceful means. We hold to our Christian values even if it means imprisonment or death. We do not meet violence with violence. We do not initiate violence to get what we want. Jesus changed the entire world without a gun or a spear. That should be how we change society – with the love of Jesus.

Father, help me never to be the origin of evil in my society. Help me to have integrity and display it in everything that I do especially in front of non-believers. May my integrity in a world that is generally without it be a witness to the unsaved as to what Christians are all about. Help me too Father to quit complaining about the direction of my nation’s government at all levels and do something about it from the inside. Further, Father, please help me to never compromise my faith in your Son just to survive. Help me to stand firm in my faith and never cave in before those who would kill me for not renouncing my faith. Help me to hold fast to your Word daily as governments slowly try to chip away at Christian values. Help those who are currently suffering oppressive regimes. Help me to be motivated to help them. It is in the name of your precious Son, Jesus Christ, that I pray this prayer. Amen.