A Message from Pastor Hale
We often hear of people talking about “rights,” whether it be healthcare or education or happiness or safety. This sounds good. It says we deserve these things and they must be guaranteed. While they make for dynamic political speech, we can't give ourselves rights and neither can government.
All authority is instituted by God. This includes governments, parents, and pastors. Even if they do lousy jobs, rebellion is never a Christian thing to do. Jesus did not say we should disobey even evil governments, but they get none of the fear, love, and trust that we owe our heavenly Father:
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away (Mt. 22)
Jesus says we owe Caesar something that does not conflict with faith in Him. It is a matter of dividing properly between what is God's and what is the government's. We can pay taxes and obey laws and be forgiven through faith. One is outward, the other is inward and spiritual. In fact, the Christian must obey the government and pay taxes, or he is going against Christ's own instituted authority. God works even through evil people to do His will. But grace and forgiveness do not come through Caesar or Moses, they come through Christ.
What about all the evil our government does? It supports murder and harms families and marriages. It has legalized almost every sexual sin and the remaining boundaries seem tenuous. We follow man-made laws where they do not require breaking God's law. Thankfully, legalizing something doesn't mean we have to do it. Not everyone in Colorado does marijuana and not every U.S. citizen commits adultery, though both are legal. God's law restricts, us and we who love Him also love His law. Divine law is what we follow unconditionally, because it is from God.
I heard an interesting discussion recently. A man said we can't condemn any public figure for adultery, because it is not a crime today. But the government is not God. Right and wrong do not change over time to adjust to people's sensitivities. The government's authority is derived from natural law and God Himself. But it does not get to play God and make new laws. The government cannot define right and wrong and bad laws do not change the Ten Commandments. What does the Lord say: “Do not commit adultery.” Even a legal second marriage can be adultery before God. “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” We owe Caesar earthly respect, but not our hearts or minds.
So legalizing homosexual relationships did nothing to true marriage. Yes, it is sad, but we have divine law. We don't worship only a man, but the Lord Himself who died and rose from the dead. So we can thank Christ for the good our government does, that we don't live in fear of being killed every time we step outside, without approving of everything it legalizes. What we owe to Caesar is small and only because we see God beyond Cesar, even when he doesn't look very godly.
In the words of the famous song: “And now, the end is near, And so I face the final curtain, My friend, I'll say it clear, I'll state my case, of which I'm certain, I've lived a life that's full, I traveled each and every highway, And more, much more than this, I did it my way.” But our way, the way that seems right to us is always death. A funeral director once told me he played that during a funeral service. But the proof is in the pudding, as we say. A casket of dust is where our way leads, because we reject God every day by loving sin and our way of death.
We wants rights without the Lord, and without obeying Him. But government cannot replace God. We can get healthcare, but there is no guarantee of health. We can get a check, but no guarantee of joy in friends or family. The world promises a lot, but delivers little. Man cannot get above God and usurp His authority. Government only has a limited role in keeping peace and order.
Christ promises everything and delivers. We do things His way. His way is the cross—which comes before glory. Our joy is not in getting what we want (even the right politicians), but in submitting to His will. We live to God, not to impress people, knowing we will inherit the kingdom to come.
Righteousness is not a right we deserve. But the death we deserve Christ wanted to die. His sacrifice of His body was one of love. Our Lord gave Himself, not because he had to, but because He loves you dearly. When we are in Christ, His way is not the way of death, but the way of resurrection. We follow Jesus, our first-fruits, and know suffering serves a purpose, just like authority. We trust God's will is always good. God's love is dependable, even when we don't get our own way. God's perfect way is in Christ, which is always right for us.