What Does God Have to do With Government?

With the political atmosphere being what it is these days, we’re likely numb to the latest headlines in our media-driven culture. Controversy is a constant and hatefulness is habitual. And let’s be honest: this isn’t a democrat or republican issue. This isn’t “fake news.” We need to self-evaluate and determine whether we’re part of the problem or part of the solution in respect to our attitudes towards government and authority in general. 

Would you believe it if I said that authority is a God-given thing? When we look at the family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4), God demands for authority to be respected. When we look at the church (Ephesians 1:20-23; 4:1-16), God demands for authority to be respected. Do you think it might be different when it comes to the government? Let’s look into it. 

In Mark 12:13-17, the Pharisees and Herodians were trying to paint Jesus in a corner by testing His authority and asking whether they should still pay taxes to the government – a branch of authority. Jesus asks for a denarius (a coin) and asked, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” He further said to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Simply put, we obey the laws of the land and of God. So, pay your taxes.

Perhaps we wonder, “What gives Caesar or any other form of government the right to hold this authority?” The question really isn’t “what,” it’s “Who,” and the answer is God. In fact, Paul and Peter write similar instructions in regards to God-given authority to governmental offices (Paul – Romans 13:1-7; Peter – 1 Peter 2:13-17). Paul says bluntly in Romans 13:2, “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Peter says plainly in 1 Peter 3:17, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

I understand we don’t have the office of “emperor” in our country, but the principle still stands. When we resist and disrespect the government or any other form of authority, we resist and disrespect God. While we have the right to freedom of speech, we can’t be foolish in how we exercise that right. The ones who scream the loudest, curse in the face of authority, or refer to the police as “pigs” are not the ones who win in the end. They may get the media coverage and be called “brave” or “strong” by some in our society, but God’s unbiased judgment will deem otherwise. 

We don’t have to like the President, the Governor, or even the Mayor. Just like with your work place: you don’t have to like your boss, but you better respect him/her if you’d like to keep your job. While our respect (or lack thereof) likely won’t affect our citizenship here, it very well could affect our citizenship with God.