HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY BELOVED PEOPLE (:
What a fun day to celebrate American independence! I hope your day is filled with just as much family time, BBQ, apple pie, and fireworks as mine is! Today is so full of celebration because we have unique freedoms in our country that most do not have, and today we get to honor and celebrate with thankful hearts the freedoms that we have as Americans.
Like all things in 2020 have been going so far, this 4th of July is unique. I don’t want to shy away from our current hardships. With COVID-19 rising again and all the political topics that have been recently covered in the news, it makes sense that you may be feeling uneasy about this year’s Independence Day. If you’re anything like me, it’s gotten to the point where the topic of government leaves me anxious and confused. Many questions and thoughts come to mind, and I want to approach it through the lens of God’s Word. Like always, if the Bible addresses it, I think we should address it (:
**Full disclosure though, this post is not an attempt to address all the political topics going on in our nation. Instead, let’s zoom out, seek first God’s Kingdom, and learn how we can best honor God and honor our government in the way God commands.
So many questions come to my mind when I think about God and government including: How do we as Christians interact with our governing authorities? Is there ever a time to disobey our government? What if the government promotes something that the Bible condemns?
Well, first things first… let’s get in the Word!
I know this is a long passage, but stay with me and check out what Paul says in Romans 13:1-7
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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 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, 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. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 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.Romans 13:1-7
In summary, Paul is telling us here that government was created by God with a purpose, and we are called to honor them, respect them, and follow them. Paul lays out for us a hierarchy of authority. He says that God is ultimately sovereign over all things, and there is no authority higher than Him. Underneath of the Lord’s leadership is our governing authorities. We are told to “be subject to the governing authorities” which means that we are called to obey our government because it was put in place by the Lord. Paul tells us that one way we can honor them by paying our taxes (haha how cool is that! by paying your taxes, you’re obeying God’s Word!). The way that we honor and respect our government reflects the way that we honor and respect the King of Kings. By being obedient to our government, we are being obedient to the Lord.
Now, to answer some of those previous questions… What if the government goes against the Bible? Should we disobey them?
Again, let’s get in the Word…
[talking about the Apostle’s arrest]
“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”Acts 5:27-29
[talking about the time when King Nebuchadnezzar built a golden idol for his people to worship]
“There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? … if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”Daniel 3:12-18
In both of these instances, the governing authorities used their power to tell Christians to disobey God’s commands. In Acts the Apostles were told to stop spreading the gospel, which is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). In Daniel, three Christians were told to worship an idol, when God is supposed to be the only recipient of our worship. Passages like these show us that God allows us to disobey our government, only when obeying the government would mean disobeying God. Remember, God is our ultimate authority, and we follow Him above everything else.
I hope this was able to provide some clarity for us as we learn to honor both God and our government.
If you want to study this topic even more, my former pastor and now well-known author, speaker, and leader, David Platt, leads an event called Secret Church. This past years theme was called “God, Government, and the Gospel”. Although the event has already passed, you can rewatch the sermon videos and find other helpful resources here.
I pray you are able to celebrate today and honor our government in the way God commands knowing and living out the truth that YOU ARE LOVED <3