Summary: Series in Romans
Text: Romans 13:1-7
Title: Politics 101
Romans 13:1-7 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
I. The Command:
a. Submit to the governing authorities
II. The Reasons:
a. God has established the government
b. Rebellion against the government is rebellion against God
c. Government serves to restrain evil
d. The government will punish evil behavior
e. Submission is morally right
f. Taxes support God’s servants
g. We are called to show respect and peace to the government
I have to make a confession… I have a growing addiction… to cable news shows. I don’t know exactly why, but for some reason I just can’t stop watching those political talking heads shows. I started watching during the primaries, and now I can’t stop. I’ve never been particularly interested in politics, aside from a passing understanding of things. But for some reason I have just become enthralled with cable news.
Honestly the most interesting aspect of watching political coverage for me is how they handle the issue of religion. Each politician has to meet with certain evangelical groups to try and secure the conservative Christian vote. It is clear that Christianity still plays a huge role in American politics. The question I have is, “What role should we as Christians have in politics?”
This is a question that I have been wrestling with for awhile. Especially as a pastor, I have wrestled with what my role should be with politics. There are so many different opinions out there about what our role should be. Let me give you two examples…
At the pastor’s conference I attended a few months ago I attended a seminar on “how to shepherd your congregation during an election year”. That was the title of the seminar- “How to shepherd your congregation during an election year”. I was expecting some practical information about what to say and what not to say about politicians. Maybe some info on different propositions. You know, some practical advice that I could bring back home and share with you.
Instead the thrust of the seminar was- “Don’t worry about politics, just preach the gospel.” I appreciate that emphasis on the importance of preaching the gospel, but some practical advice would have been nice.
So one extreme is to just completely ignore politics. The pastor’s job is just to help get people to heaven. This earth is corrupt and sinful. Satan is in control. So all we should worry about is our heavenly citizenship, and not worry at all about our earthly citizenship. I don’t think this is a biblical approach to our culture.
The other extreme comes in the form of some of these Christian lobbyist organizations. Many of them do good work and are committed to furthering positive moral laws. But there just seems to be something unbalanced about a Christian organization whose sole purpose is to establish laws or change government. Their purpose isn’t about preaching the gospel or sharing Christ or changing lives from the inside, but changing behaviors of people from the outside.
This week Joan Weiss brought in this great DVD called “Pastors, Pulpits, and Politics”. It was very helpful and very practical. It talked about what pastors can and can’t say from the pulpit. It dealt with issues of church and state. It focused on the importance of holding to a solid moral standard. But it was all grounded on a solid foundation of the importance of sharing the gospel. The main goal isn’t to change people from the outside, but to change society from the inside though faith in Jesus Christ.
The passage that we will be looking at today is one of the most detailed and specific passages in the entire Bible that deals with politics. The Bible isn’t silent when it comes to our relationship as believers to the civil authorities. And if our desire is to truly live our lives in light of the guidance and direction of the Word of God, than I think we have a responsibility to really pay close attention to what these verses teach us about politics and Christianity.