Here are two more minutes with “King of the Mountain” part 2 (Matthew 22:15-22) . . .
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” A few more bullet points on this distinction spelled out by Jesus for His followers living in a secular world:
- As mentioned in the sermon, we are to pay taxes, pray for our leaders, obey the laws of the land, and respect our government leaders. In short, followers of Jesus are to be model citizens on almost every level. If this is true, then why have Christians found themselves opposed by human governments all over the world (whether it is in North Africa, China, India, or any number of other places where Christians face legal opposition today)? The answer is found NOT in the “rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”, but in “rendering to God what is God’s.” Secular governments should LOVE having Christians in their countries (if those Christians were following Jesus’ teaching on citizenship). The problem is that governments do not generally like having ANY AUTHORITY that is over them . . . including the authority of a Sovereign God. When Christians find themselves stuck between obeying God or obeying government they choose obeying God . . . which leads to the conflict. What is interesting to me, though, is that JUST LIKE the follower of Christ cannot escape being a citizen of a particular country . . . so every human government cannot escape being in a universe that is governed by the Sovereign God. The nations can rage, but the Lord still rules them all (check Psalm 2 to see this idea spelled out more clearly).
- There is a difference between “legality” and “right and wrong.” A human government can make laws about many things (marriage, abortion, guns, etc.) but just because something is legal or illegal does not make it right or wrong. God ultimately is the authority on our ethics, so we can live in a world where a behavior the Bible describes as sin is celebrated (and legal), but still believe that behavior is sinful. Since the government is not God, we can both “pay the tax” of living in a particular nation, and still maintain a different personal code of conduct. There is a difference between our God and our government.
- If a Law is passed that is in direct opposition to a command of Scripture, what should I do? The answer to this question is simple. Obey God rather than man . . . and deal with the consequences. Jesus’ disciples experienced this in Acts 5 when they were ordered by the local government to not tell anyone about Jesus. This order by local government was in direct opposition to the great commission they had been given by Jesus Himself. They chose to obey God rather than men. It led to their imprisonment, beating, and death . . . but they were still right to disobey the human law to follow the Law of Christ. There are not many instances in America today where we are required by our government to disobey the Lord with our conduct, but that is not the case for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. As our culture becomes more secular, there will most likely be more instances (even in Oklahoma) where this principle will be put to the test. Until that time, though, let us (as Christ Followers) be model citizens (render unto Caesar), while at the same time worshipping God alone (render unto God.)