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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Who's in Charge? (Part 3)

Since Tax Day just passed, I thought it would be a good time to look at "Who's in Charge?" in our lives - regarding the government and its control.

None of us 'like' paying taxes, or I doubt that we do, but it's our duty and obligation.  Even Jesus said that we must pay what is due to the government.

Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 
Matthew 22:17-21

So, we know we must pay taxes, but what about actually the notion of "Who's in Charge?"?  Do I have to be 'under' someone if I don't agree with them?  What about if I don't 'like' the President?  Do I have to respect him?

Let's look at the following passage:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. 
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 

Romans 13:1-8

How would you answer the above questions after reading what those scriptures say?  How do you feel about the statement, "there is no authority except that which God has established".  Is it possible that the President who you don't like is put in place by God for His purpose?  Apparently so.  Whether you and I like it or not.

You see, God expects us, as His children, to have respect for others....regardless of whether we agree with them or not.  Jesus said to love one another....whether we agree with them or not. It's not an option.  It's a command.

Do we have to support what a leader supports if it goes against God's law?  Absolutely not!  But to ridicule, name-call, be sarcastic and rude is not being like Jesus.  It is not shining our light brightly, but very, very dimly.  We should honor the office of President, Governor, or Mayor - all of those - whether we support the person in office or not.

My brother-in-law recently said in a sermon that some have made politics their religion.  I have to say that I tend to agree with him, though I find it a sad thing to have to say.  To some, their political beliefs are, to them, commands from God.  Yes, there are things that are right and wrong according to scripture, but this philosophy is to the extreme in the world of politics.  It transfers from personal politics to social media politics, as well as internet and TV politics.  And it's treated as if it is "God-breathed" and inspired.  It's not.

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:13-17

Is it possible that by our political beliefs we could hinder the Good News?  Yes, it is!  Is it possible that in our quest to 'do good' that we actually do harm?  Yes, it is! We must be wise.  We must be honest.  We must be kind and loving.  We must be like Jesus.

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