Christian Citizenship - 1
June 20, 2021
When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:24-27).
This generation has seen a very drastic shift in attitude regarding government in the last 25-30 years. It seems government has been more of a polarizing force in the nation than one that promotes unity and cooperation. As a result, many people, especially Christians, are at a loss as to what to do - should we get involved in government or stay out of it, should we back certain candidates or endorse no one, should we even vote since it doesn’t seem to do much good anymore?
Before we jump off the bridge, burn the bridge behind us, or even steer clear of the bridge altogether, we need to take stock in what the Bible says about Christians as citizens of the Kingdom of God and as citizens of the United States.
From this account in the teaching of Jesus to Peter we can define a general principle that guides us in honoring both the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of men. That principle is simply this: a Christian is obligated to fulfill his/her duties as a citizen of the nation in which he/she lives except when that government causes or demands the Christian to disobey God’s Word and God’s will. In such case, the Christian is bound to Jesus Christ and not to human law or authority. Of course, the Christian will suffer for honoring that position, but it is the position we should be willing to suffer for if we are to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ.
While we wait for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to come in its fullness (the Millennial Kingdom), the Christian is subject to human government and human laws. This is clearly stated by the Apostle Paul in Romans 13 and the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:9-25. This is not a popular position to hold among many Christians, especially those who are political zealots, but it is the Word of God spoken to us through two of His greatest Apostles.
And by the way, both Peter and Paul took this stance while living under political conditions far more severe than what we face today. Even Jesus Himself faced a political and a religious system of laws, ordinances, and authorities that were contrary to God’s Word and will, yet He submitted to them without sin.
“Lord Jesus, we are living in an age not unlike the days You and the Apostles lived in. Teach us discernment on how to live so that our witness of Your Gospel will not be hindered by our conduct under a corrupt system of government. To Your praise and glory I ask, Amen.”