A quote many attribute to Ronald Reagan states that the eight most frightening words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I am here to help.”. With the Iowa Republican primaries just two weeks away, those of us in the Untied States are turning attention to who our next President will be. The people in North Korea are dealing with the sudden death of their leader, Kim Jong Il, and the unknown capabilities of his son and successor, Kim Jong-un. With this in mind, I want to share some observations concerning Christian and government.
I consider myself as a Christian to maintain dual citizenship. Paul reminds us that we are citizens of heaven and of the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Php 3:20; Col 1:13) and Peter tells his readers that we are sojourners and exiles (1 Pet 2:11 – this is similar to being aliens). As citizens of heaven, we currently find ourselves living in Republics, Democracies, Monarchies, and Dictatorships. Within each of these styles of government there are varying levels of freedom and expectations of its citizens. Our question is, what does the Bible have to say about a Christian’s duty to the earthly government in which he or she lives as a sojourner?
1. Present Yourself as Subject. Consider the following: Rom 13:1, 5, ” . . . Let every person be subject to the governing authorities . . . .One must be in subjection.” and 1 Pet 2:13-14, “Be subject to every human institution . . .”. Paul and Peter write this as they are living under Roman occupation. They did not vote for Caesar, nor would I think they old agree with aloof his policies, yet they both say to be subordinate to those who rule.
2. Pay. Rom 13:6-7, “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.”. We may not approve of everthing our government does with tax money – I am sure Paul did not approve of Caesar using tax money to persecute Christians and host games while citizens starved for food and education – but we pay taxes. We also owe them the respect the office of President, Governor, Congressman, Senator, King, Queen, or Emperor requires. We do not worship them, but we do give them honor and respect.
3. Pray. 1 Tim 2:1-2, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”. We must pray for our leaders and the leaders of other nations for our physical life and our spiritual life to be good and full of peace.
What other responsibilities do we have to our government?