When Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:25), which things belong to Caesar? How should a Christian under the authority and allegiance of Jesus Christ render unto the authority of their country or state?
- Pay your taxes. To the authorities of this country, Paul says, “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 13:7). Paying your taxes, not evading them, is an act of obedience to Jesus Christ—even if you do not agree with the way government spends that money.
- Pray for your leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Paul urged that prayers 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.” This pleases God. We may not attain a high office, but we as Christians sure can pray for those who are there, that they would have God’s wisdom and seek Christ in all they do.
- Practice civil obedience. The Apostle Paul says, “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” (Romans 13:1). If we resist governmental authority, we resist God—unless it directly conflicts with God’s revealed will. If our government outlaws sharing the gospel, we disobey it because, as Peter and John said to the Sanhedrin, “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). Even then, we must face the penalty of that law with quiet submission.
- Participation in public life. As Christians, we may be called to serve our fellow citizens in the military, police officers, firefighters, etc. We as Americans have been given the right to vote, and so we should take this responsibility seriously. Remember the numerous examples of when centurions and soldiers would come to faith in Christ—Jesus never told them to quit their jobs. Churches must also speak about public issues in regards to poverty, business, education, racism, abortion, marriage, war, the environment, and many other issues with a moral dimension. How? Not necessarily by gaining more political influence, but by prayer, preaching the Word, deeds of mercy, and winning people’s minds and hearts with the love of Jesus.
There is not one square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is the Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine.”
Adapted from Luke, Volume 2 by Philip Graham Ryken (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), pp. 367-369.