1 Loyalty and 5 Responsibilities

November 4, 2020

Four years ago, a couple of months before the Presidential election of 2016, I preached my first (and maybe only) sermon on politics. As I lay in bed this morning looking over the election results on my phone, my mind raced back to that message.

With this election still up in the air, this may be as good a time as any to go back and watch the entire message, but it would for sure be good to at least consider the main point.

When it comes to the government, the Bible is clear that Christians have one loyalty and at least five responsibilities.

Our one loyalty is to Jesus.

Our loyalty is not to the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Communist Party, the Tea Party, the Libertarian Party, nor the Green Party. Our one unwavering loyalty is to the Jesus Party.

…our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. (Philippians 3:20-4:1)

Responsibility #1: Pray

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Over the next few days, weeks, and months it will be important to ask ourselves this one simple question: “Do I spend as much time praying for governing authorities as I spend complaining about them?”

Pray.

That’s our number one responsibility. This weekend at Riverview, we will spend some time praying for our newly elected officials. We do this after every major election. I encourage you to join us in this as we beseech the God of the Universe to work through the authorities we have elected (even if we don’t know the full results by then).

Responsibility #2: Submit

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
(Romans 13:1-7)

This is a difficult passage to digest when we disagree with the authorities in our lives, but it is critical. It is very likely that you are happy with some of the election results and dismayed about some of them, but the fact remains that God is not in a panic (or celebrating) the results of this whole thing. Rather, he is working through it. We must recognize that God is ultimately in control of who governs our nation, state, and city.  They are His authorities.

Unless these governing authorities command us to do evil or restrict us from worshipping our God, we submit.

Responsibility #3: Honor

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)

Honor and respect is something that is given regardless of the honorability or respectability of the person it is given too. As followers of Jesus, there is no place for us to mock those in authority. We may disagree, but we must always do so in an honoring way.

Responsibility #4: Support

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:5-7)

Pay your taxes.

Responsibility #5: Have a Good Reputation

This one is threaded through all of the others and swings back to our one loyalty.  We represent Jesus, the King of Kings, in the world we live in, and people are watching us.  The tone of this election season has been nasty and fearful but as followers of Jesus, we have no reason to be either because we know the hero of the story and believe the world is in his hands.

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