Sunday evening (August 1), I preached a sermon here at West Side called “Submitting to Caesar?” If you’re interested, you can find it on the “Sermons” page of this site. The sermon is lengthy, but I believe it deals with an issue that all to often is misunderstood or ignored by Christians today.
In Romans 13:1-7, the Apostle Paul tells us that we are to be subject to the civil authorities because they have been instituted by God. To refuse to submit is to act in opposition to God. Paul calls those in authority God’s servants and ministers. To rebel against them is to rebel against an authority that comes from God. That’s as serious as it gets.
In the sermon, I deal with common objections to the blanket teaching that we are to honor and submit to civil authorities (even if they are immoral), and I show how Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5 and Matthew 22, Paul’s teachings in Romans 13, Peter’s teachings in 1 Peter 2, and the Apostles’ actions in Acts 4 & 5 all point to the same conclusion that we are to submit to civil authorities unless their orders or laws are in direct violation to a direct command of God.
The challenge is whether or not we trust God enough to do things His way or if we really believe that substituting our own wisdom will do us or anyone else any good. I’m not suggesting that we aren’t motivated out of a desire to end oppression or to extend justice or to compel people to live more moral and ethical lives. God, however, doesn’t gain disciples by compulsion. Revolts, rebellions, and even non-violent disobedience simply are not actions that God ever advises Christians to take. The NT, to the contrary, says something much more radical. It teaches us to honor those in authority and to submit to them–even if they are ungodly themselves.
If this peaks your interest or even if it raises your temperature a bit, I hope you’ll listen to the whole argument as presented in my sermon. In truth, even this sermon isn’t the whole argument, but I had already preached too long, so some questions and concerns had to remain unaddressed. If, after listening to the sermon, you want to bring up those concerns, please leave your comments or send me a message (email@example.com), and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
We’re flooded with election news and political scandals these days, but the question is whether or not we’ll let these things divert us from our real mission and purpose as children of God or if we’ll honor God’s sovereignty by following even the hardest commands.