Tag Archives: Politics and Submission

Sin, Submission, and Stan

1 Mar

Take a moment to join me at the coffee bar where Nate and Stan are having a conversation.  Nate has waited most of the year for his opportunity to share the Gospel message and Stan has just thrown the door wide open:

Stan: So you’re telling me that any time we disobey God, it’s a sin?

Nate:  Yes.  And sin requires punishment – eternal separation from God.  Since all that is good comes from God, nothing good can exist in this place of separation.  We call it Hell.  But Christ came and took that punishment for us.  All we have to do is accept His gift.

Stan:  And then we can do whatever we want?

Nate:  Of course not!  When you receive a gift like that, you want to show the Giver that you appreciate His sacrifice.  We do that through obedience to God’s commands.

Stan:  Doesn’t the Bible say that you’re supposed to obey those in authority?

Nate:  Yes.  Why?

Stan:  Because I saw you parking in the main parking lot the other day… not the staff parking area.  The boss was pretty explicit about where we were supposed to park.

Nate:  Well, that’s different.  The staff parking is so far away from the door.  Management can’t really expect us all to walk through the cold to get to work.  We’d all get sick!

You can probably see where this dialogue is headed.  While Nate talked boldly about sin and its consequences, it was clear that the way he lived (and his justification of his lifestyle) reflected a less-than-serious attitude towards sin.  His failure to obey “every human institution” (as commanded in 1 Peter 2:13) reflected an even more serious problem in regard to his submission to God.

As Christians, we need to be careful about how we live – especially if we want the opportunity to share the good news about God’s love with others.  That’s not to say that we’ll get it right all of the time or even that we’ll clearly recognize every sin as sin.  But it does mean that we need to be open to admitting sin when we recognize that what we’ve done directly contradicts God’s Word.

It also means that we can’t just pick and choose which laws we will or won’t obey… regardless of whether they are constitutional (as in my objection to paying taxes in last week’s post)… or good.  This may mean that at times we have to sacrifice what is rightfully ours to unjust management or a corrupt official.  We may have to bend our will to that of congress or the city council, even when the actions they take fail to align with our views of righteousness.  Scripture is clear that unless a law directly contradicts God’s Word, those who follow Christ are bound to obey it.  To do otherwise is sin.  And none of us should take that lightly.

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Politics and Evangelism: The Question of Submission

22 Feb

“Then I’ll go to jail!”  I stormed away from the table in a rage.  Couldn’t my parents understand what I was saying?  What the government was doing was wrong!  How could I comply by giving them money from my hard-earned income?

When questioned about paying taxes to Caesar, Jesus had replied, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”  (Matthew 22:18-21)  Since Washington, Lincoln, and Grant were all dead, it was clear that this command did not apply to me as a U.S. citizen.  For the government to demand that I hand over part of my salary to support all sorts of nefarious activities wasn’t just unconstitutional: it violated God’s written Word.  And I would have none of it!

I’ll admit that my motivation had more to do with wanting to retain my pay than any desire to avoid funding sin. I’ve come around since my teen years and I have paid taxes ever since I got my first job… despite my concerns about what they might be funding.  Why?  Because God said to.

Perhaps one of the hardest commands Scripture gives us is that of 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution…”  Such submission doesn’t come naturally to most of us.  We want to see, do, and know for ourselves … even when that seeing, doing, and knowing might harm both ourselves and others.  What do we do when we don’t understand the purpose for a rule or, worse yet, that rule is unjust?  We break it.

Of course, this may not be our intent at first.  After all, most of us want to be viewed as law abiding citizens, even if we don’t like the laws by which we must abide.  So we look for wiggle room or try to find a loophole.  Yes, the speed limit is 25, but police officers only stop drivers if they’re going 30 … so it must be okay.  Of course the sign says “No Swimming”, but the city put that up to warn weak swimmers, not Olympic quality athletes like myself … no problem!

While these little “fudges” may not look like much to us, they are often a very accurate reflection of our attitude towards sin … an attitude which can make or break our efforts to share the Gospel message.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at what the Bible says about submission and how our actions and attitudes influence the way others view our faith and, more importantly, our God.  We’ll examine some common pitfalls and take a look at practical ways to avoid them.  Meanwhile, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below!

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