Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Life on this side of the cross”
Our Bible verse for today: “Jesus told them, ‘Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Mark 12:17 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Christians should be good citizens”
This morning we will continue our discussion regarding the relationship between Christians and civil government. Yesterday I made the case that the followers of Jesus should be good, cooperative, and law-abiding citizens of whatever land we live in. As long as civil law doesn’t violate God’s law, Christians should comply and cooperate. When civil law does conflict with Biblical principles, then we take our stand on Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than men”.
In Mark 12:13-17 Jesus was asked if the people of God should pay taxes to the Roman Empire. The implication behind the question was that the Roman Empire was godless, and Caesar was a brutal and evil ruler. If the people of God paid their taxes, then perhaps they were in some way endorsing or feeding into the corruption and paganism of that government. Jesus replied that they should pay the taxes required of them, and the point He was making was that as citizens of the Roman Empire every citizen is required to obey the laws of the land, including paying taxes, and that was as true for the Jews as it was for all other citizens.
Not only did Jesus teach that lesson about civil obedience, but He modeled it. The only time we find Him in opposition to any authority figures was when those authority figures were promoting principles or requiring actions that were contrary to God’s law. In those cases, Jesus took a stand for Biblical principles and He would not be moved. But we never find Him defying the Roman government, or even the Jewish leaders, just to be difficult, defiant, or contrarian. If there wasn’t a Biblical principle at stake, Jesus was a cooperative and law-abiding citizen.
There’s a difference between being faithful and being difficult. If you take a stand for Biblical principle, you are being faithful. If you are just being a rebel because you don’t like something the government requires of you, you are being difficult and defiant.
In the USA if you don’t like the laws, there are political and legal processes in place that allow you to work to change the laws. You have that right. But you do not have the right to break the law simply because you don’t like it. And when I say “you don’t have the right”, I mean you don’t have the right under civil law nor do you have the right Biblically.
The lesson for us on this side of the cross, as taught and modeled in multiple places in the New Testament by Jesus, Paul, and Peter, is that we are to be good citizens of whatever land we live in.