During trying times of government overreach we tend to ask these types of questions. When things are easy and peaceful, we are less likely to bring them up. Because of this, we often are left unprepared when a switch in rule happens. Let’s ask the question, should Christians obey the government no matter what?
GOD CALLS CHRISTIANS TO OBEY GOVERNMENT
First, Christians are called to obey governing authorities. Government is God-ordained and God-given. Romans 13:1b says about governing authorities, “those that exist have been instituted by God.” Government is not evil in and of itself as an institution because it is God-given.
If the government is God-given, then of course God would want us to subject ourselves to it. In fact, in Romans 13:1a it says, “let every person be subject to the governing authorities.”
OBEY GOD WHEN GOVERNMENT CALLS US TO DISOBEY HIM
Second, Christians are called to obey God when governing authorities ask us to disobey God. Peter and the apostles were a great example of this. They were thrown in prison by the government for preaching the Gospel. When they got out, they were told not to preach the Gospel again. They disobeyed the governing authorities because God was their higher authority who told them to spread the Gospel. When they were asked why they would disobey the government Peter and the apostles famously said, “we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).”
THE STICKY WICKET
Third, obeying God goes beyond worshipping Him no matter what the government says. Often Christians believe that the only time to resist governing authorities is when the government tells them to stop worshiping God or sharing the Gospel. This is not so.
While government is God-given, this does not mean that the government is given unchecked powers. In fact, God-given government is given specific ways to govern. After telling Christians to submit to the government, Peter explains the role of government: God gave government “to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good” (I Peter 2:14).
This means that when the government is praising evil and punishing good, we are called to resist. They are not subjecting themselves to God, so we should not subject ourselves to them. To do so would be to go against God’s commandments.
So when we think about government in the way they act, if they are blatantly going against what God calls good, or clearly supporting what God calls evil, we need to disobey government in order to obey God. We should not take this lightly, and we shouldn’t use this process as a way to weasel out of every government order or law. But there are times we are called to resist.
This resistance goes beyond preaching the Gospel and worshipping God in public. It includes times the government sinfully praises groups that promote that which God calls evil, or when government rejects things which God calls good.
In conclusion, government is ordained by God and we are called to obey government in principle. God calls us to disobey the government when we are called by the government to disobey God. There are times beyond worship and sharing of the Gospel that God calls us to resist government – such as when we are called to praise evil or punish good. What do you think about the role of government? What do you think about it as a Christian? Where are we called to obey and resist governing authorities in our current culture?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.