The celebration of Independence Day weekend, the Fourth of July, has us tuned to what it means to be an American. The Bible, as with all things, gives us guidance.
In Matthew 17:24-27 Jesus & Peter are challenged to pay the Jewish Temple tax. This raises questions. Shouldn't Jesus, as a rabbi, be exempt? More so shouldn't Jesus, as God's Son, be exempt? Wouldn't his followers be exempt as well? Yet Jesus leads Peter to the conclusion that Christ & his followers should obey earthly authorities with willingness & care not to offend.
The immorality or corruption of the governmental authority does not matter.
The obedience & service of the Christ follower as a citizen does matter.
Further Scriptures provide thorough guidelines for the attitude, understanding, & obedience of Christ followers desirous of being God honoring citizens.
As Christ following citizens:
- We recognize our primary citizenship (1 Perter 2:9). This is not only our new belonging as citizens in God's Eternal Kingdom, but our new being in Christ, & provides foundation for all that follows.
- We are recipients of God's mercy (1 Peter 2:10). We are Kingdom citizens because of God's mercy. The living out of His mercy should be a hallmark of the Christ following life.
- We live for the sake of others (1 Peter 2:11-12). As citizens first of an eternal Kingdom, we must live such exemplary lives that others easily recognize the difference & glorify God because of us.
- We obey authorities for the sake of Jesus (1 Peter 2:13-14). More importantly than for others is that our submission to authorities is for our Lord's sake.
- We must not offend authorities (Matthew 17:27). As Heavenly citizens first, we obey not only the letter of the law of earthly authorities, but with a joyful attitude as well.
- We pay taxes to the authority due (Matthew 22:21). As beneficiaries of all our earthly governments provide, we must also participate in their support.
- We submit to authorities (Romans 13:1-2). God Himself has ordained the governing authorities of this earth, & we must not rebel lest we bring His judgment upon ourselves.
- We obey authorities willingly (Romans 13:5). Our good conscience as citizens of God's Kingdom, not the possibility of punishment here, should motivate us to obedience.
- We pay taxes as God requires (Romans 13:6-7). Since God has established earthly authorities as His servants, we must support them in their work.
Christ followers should be exemplary citizens. That's our bottom line. That is how Scripture guides.
May God bless us as citizens of His Eternal Kingdom.
May God bless the earthly nation of our citizenship.