Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Bethany Bullet-Tuesday, September 9, 2008

There are some pastors who in jest, or in condescension, say that it is the role of the Christian to pray, pay and obey. In other words Christians should talk to God, stock the budget and walk as told by authority, which in the case of those pastors is very convenient! Believe it or not those pastors would be right…in terms of duty…just mistaken in terms of venue.

In the divine institution of the church, Romans chapter 12, Paul has already told us what the role of the Christian is. God has called on us as members of the body of Christ and citizens of the kingdom to live in harmony, be a family, speak charitably, forgive freely, love sincerely and hate idolatry (that is any evil thing that would elevate human opinion of fleshly desires above the Word of God.)

Those pastors (which I spoke about above) would be right however in their understanding of the duty of a Christian citizens. In the divine institution of the state, Romans chapter 13, Paul declares that as one who is both a member of the body of Christ and a member of the state, Christians are called to pray, pay, obey and display.

We are called to pray for our leaders. To young pastor Timothy and his flock, Paul wrote, “I exhort you, that prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all; for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives.” While some citizens believe their first priority should be to demonstrate before leaders, and others give first thought to agitate the populace, and still others hyperventilate over leaders – we as Christians are called to supplicate first and foremost on behalf of our leaders.

We are called to pay. “People in government are God’s servants while they do the work he has given them. Pay everyone whatever you owe them. If you owe taxes, pay them. If you owe tolls, pay them. If you owe respect, pay it.”—Romans 13:6-7. This might not make April 15th easier, nor does it end discussion on rates or usage, representation or wisdom, but it does command obedience.

We are called to obedience. Obedience is not limited to such laws as are to our liking! We are not free nor at liberty to disregard laws with which we don’t agree. However, if a law conflicts with God’s law and obedience would mean disobedience to God’s command we must, as St. Peter said, “obey God rather than men.” When the state demanded the apostles’ to not speak in Jesus’ name they kept on preaching, thank God! When the state demanded the lives of infant sons, Moses’ mother made a basket of reeds to float him down the Nile, thank God! When the state demanded Christians to burn incense to Caesar as Lord, the martyrs were given strength to say Christ alone is Lord, praise God! When the state demanded neighbors be turned in for “protection” i.e. extermination, many opened basements and concealed their presence in good conscience, thank God! And if Christian citizens face laws that are insufficient, unwise, impractical or immoral they are free, even compelled, to seek to change such laws by use of legal means for legislation that is for the best interest and welfare of the community.

We are called to display. We are called to live out our faith in our lives and thus show what it is to be one who has dual citizenship, that in the state and that in the kingdom that never ends. A famous Lutheran preacher, Martin Franzmann, put it this way, “In so doing, as our actions and attitude proceed from faith, we not only keep the orders of the state, we rise above by doing more than is required.” For instance, as Christian citizens we affirm that life is sacred and precious. Yet, we will do more, for example:
  • By assisting with hurricane relief – you can send you donation to Bethany for the work of Lutheran World Relief.
  • Sponsoring a child through Mission India – support a child at Happy Home and Lutheran School in India for at least ONE year or more & make a difference in these children’s lives.
  • By making sure the Assistance Food Pantry at Bethany is full with appropriate resources for those who may come through our church office that are in need – a collection basket is in the narthex the 3rd Sunday of each month.

“In so doing we rise above the orders of the state, by doing more than required!”


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