A surgeon, an engineer, and politician were debating which of their professions was the oldest. The surgeon said, “Eve was made from Adam’s rib, and that of course, was a surgical procedure. Therefore, surgery is the oldest profession.” The engineer countered, “Yes, but before that, order was created out of chaos, and that most certainly was an engineering job.” The politician smiled and said triumphantly, “Aha! And just who do you think created the chaos?” Well, as we look over the political climate of our country, we would say that there is chaos. And as we approach Election Day, what should be our attitude towards our government?
Most importantly, we must understand that God has authority over all human leaders (Ps 47:8; Ps 62:11; Daniel 4:17; Prov 8:15; Prov 21:1; Rom 13:1 & Col 1:16). God is sovereign and in control over all things-that includes our government and our political leaders. No matter what happens in November, our God is still in control of our country, world, and universe. Therefore, this chaotic election year, what is the Christian’s Biblical responsibility to our government?
First and foremost, Christians are to submit to their government (I Pet. 2:13; Titus 3:1 & Romans 13:1). The root word for submit means to place or arrange under. It is primarily a military term- to place oneself under someone else. The voice of the verb in I Peter 2:13 indicates that it should be voluntarily; that we should freely choose to place ourselves under the authority of every human institution. Why should we submit to our government?
1. Because we are commanded to (Ro 13:1 and I Pet 2:13).
2. Because government authority is ordained by God (Rom 13:1). Paul is not arguing for the divine right of any special form of government, but for government and order. The abuses in government do not invalidate a government’s divine charter any more than the abuses of marriage rob it of it sacredness.
3. Because resistance to government is rebellion against God (Rom 13:2).
4. Because government punishes those who resist it (Rom 13:2b & 4b)
Generally, you don't need to fear the police as long as you obey the law.
5. Because the government serves to restrain evil & promote good (Rom 13:3-4)
6. Because it is the will of God (I Pet 2:13-15).
7. Because it may silence the ignorance of foolish men or a good testimony to the unsaved (I Pet 2:15). Your testimony for Jesus depends on not just what you say, but how you live. What kind of testimony is it to the world if we choose not to pay taxes, or obey laws? Peter tells us that by being submissive to our government, we will silence many foolish critics who are trying to find areas to throw in our faces to discredit Christ.
Second, Christians are to pray for their leaders (I Tim 2:1-4).
Third, Christians are to financially support those in authority (Rom 13:6-7 & Matt 22:16-21). Since our government is a servant of God, we are responsible to support our leaders by paying taxes, because without financial support, governments cannot function. We know that some of the revenue will be used unwisely, and we may not approve of some of the ways our government spends our money, but how taxes are spent is sometimes out of our control.
Fourth, Christians are to honor and respect those who hold public office (I Pet 2:17). Our honor is not necessarily to the person in that position, but to the position itself. The person may be unworthy, unethical, immoral, but the institution is not, because God wills it.
At this time of year General Washington’s prayer seems so appropriate: “Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States under Thy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection for one another and for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large.”
-Pastor Mike Kotrla