“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.” – Romans 13:1-5.
One of the more touchy subjects for a pastor is politics and government. Years ago, Dwight Moody took a strong political stand and was dressed down by a fellow believer who said that “as a Christian,” Moody was “a citizen of heaven.” The implication being that Moody had no business taking sides on political issues. Moody’s response must surely go down in history as one of the snappiest comebacks of all time: “I am a citizen of heaven, but at the present time I vote in Cook County, Illinois.” Mr Moody’s reply was clever and a reminder that regardless of a Christian’s political persuasion, he or she has a solemn responsibility to both his God and his government.
The Bible is very clear. Everyone must submit to the governing authorities. No exception.
Peter said this in 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…” If you have attended Northstar for the Ideal Family series, you know that the Bible has a lot to say about submitting. But most people would not put submission and the government in the same sentence. But here is what you need to know. Every government which has the power to rule over its people has been granted that power and authority by God. They are God’s servants. They derive their origin, right, and power from God.
We are to submit to government for the Lord’s sake. We submit and support the state, not because we love the state so much or even agree with everything the state does or says, but because we are honoring the Lord.
We must remember that God is King. We know how it ends, no matter what is happening on the political landscape today. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This world is not our home. So we can engage with profound love for our country while knowing that we were ultimately made for another country, a heavenly one.
- Do you have a hard time respecting authority? Why/why not? What do you think respecting the government looks like?
- Do you have to agree with a government to respect it?
- Read Titus 3:1: What does that verse mean to you?
- According to Romans 12:1, what is the motivation for living out Romans 13:1-7?