“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
“Sweet Land of Liberty”
(Please read Romans 13:1-7)
On this day of celebrating our nation’s independence, we can truly thank God and our forefathers for the government we have – probably the best government yet devised by human beings.
Even so, Christian citizens often have qualms and confusion about their obligations to our government. It appears that the words of Paul in our text were written to address similar fears on the part of the early Christians.
You will notice his emphasis on the fact that God established governmental authorities, and to rebel against the government is to disregard what God instituted. Jesus himself, who would be made “King of kings and Lord of lords,” submitted to the government, evil though it was in many of its ways. Jesus paid taxes (Matthew 17:24-37). He declared that Pilate’s authority was given to Pilate “from above” (John 19:11). He even submitted to arrest, unjustified though it was, and refused to allow Peter to defend him with the sword. And he never encouraged the Jews in their various complaints against the Roman government.
Does this mean that Christians should have no part in trying to change bad laws? Not at all. To love our country is to want to make it better. Patriotism demands as much, but patriotism works through peaceful means, such as political campaigns and the ballot box. Christians should be the best citizens of any country, and any country can benefit by listening to its best citizens.
We should celebrate our American citizenship and not be reluctant or afraid to help our country, remembering always that our higher citizenship is in heaven (see Philippians 3:20).