Summary: Fourth of July message encouraging our group to have the proper order of allegiance as Christians and citizens.
God and Country – In that Order!
July 4, 2010
THE AUDIO FOR THIS MESSAGE IS AVAILABLE AT WWW.ABERDEENWESLEYAN.ORG
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEY'S BOOK. "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
Me: I love America. I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men and women who died to give that right to me.
In fact, I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, if called to do that (although I don’t think they’d be looking for a 46-year-old soldier).
I hope that there’s no doubt among you that I love this land.
I say that because some of you might be put off by some of the things I’ll say today, but I want you to know that I love America.
But I have to confess that sometimes I feel a tension between love of country and allegiance to Christ.
Not necessarily because I have to choose one or the other, but because I’m told from various sources that to be a good Christian I have to feel certain ways about America, from both ends of the political spectrum.
And I find myself having to think through some things that, when I’ve thought through them, may put me at odds with either of those.
We: I wonder how many of you here today feel that same tension sometimes.
In the years since President Reagan, it has become almost a requirement to be a Christian to be good American, and a Republican to be a good Christian.
Of course, neither of these are true, but it’s gotten to the point where I have switched my own party affiliation to Independent because I didn’t want anyone to accuse me of trying to lead this church down any particular party line.
I had to really slow down in my talking about some of these things because I realized that I had been swallowing the party line without thinking.
Sometimes the party line is correct, and sometimes it’s wrong, no matter what party you belong to.
And Christians need to be encouraged to think for themselves on these things without the threat that their salvation will be questioned for it.
So how can we be both good Christians and good citizens of the United States – or any country for that matter?
I think that the answer lies in the title of the message: God and country – in that order.
The goal of today’s message is to help us grasp that so not only can we have a Biblical perspective on this whole thing, but allow us to have the greatest appreciation and enjoyment of what this great country has to offer.
We’re going to look at a few different passages of Scripture throughout our time today, but the primary one is found in Matthew 22:15-22 (p. 699) –
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
21 "Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
This passage goes way beyond just the idea of whether you should pay a portion of your income to the government.
We’re not even really going to go into that, because I don’t want to hear all the tired arguments of whether or not the income tax is constitutional, biblical, or whatever.
The religious leaders weren’t concerned with tax money, they were concerned with the question of allegiance.
If Jesus said they should pay taxes to Caesar, He would be saying that the government in power is more important than Jehovah God, and they could persecute Him for disloyalty to God.
If He said it was wrong to pay taxes to Caesar, they could report Him to the Roman government for trying to undermine their control in Israel.
If you and I were asked this question back then, we might not catch the intent, and we might end up saying something that would trap us in our words, even if we didn’t mean to say that.