Summary: Where do God & country meet? How can we be good Christians & yet good citizens? Can we be both, or do we have to be one or the other? Do we have to sacrifice our love of God for love of country, or vice-versa? (*PowerPoint available - #245)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
(Changed e-mail address: PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request - #245.)
ILL. Dr. James Dobson began his latest Newsletter from Focus on the Family with these words:
“Greetings! I trust your October is off to a good start. Unless you’ve been completely cut off from media access, you probably know that 2002 is an election year, & that Americans will go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5th. The entire 435-member House of Representatives, a third of the United States Senate, & numerous other state & local offices are up for grabs.
“As citizens of a democracy, we have the ability to make our voices heard &, as a result, vastly affect the outcome of this election. I urge you to keep informed about the important issues in your part of the country, & then vote your conscience…!
“Voter apathy among Christians is alarmingly high. In the 2000 presidential election, more than 2 out of every 5 evangelicals failed to exercise their privilege to cast a ballot. Given the fact that it can take as little as 20 minutes to either pull that lever, fill in the bubble or dare I say, punch out the chad, there is no excuse not to vote. Now, more than ever, it is critical that men & women of faith bring their convictions to bear upon the world around them.” (October, 2002)
Folks, I have a question for you. “Does it bother you that Dr. Dobson wrote those words, or that I even chose to read them to you this morning?”
And how about his assertion that, “Now, more than ever, it is critical that men & women of faith bring their convictions to bear upon the world around them”? Do you think that is true, or do you feel that Christians really shouldn’t say anything at all about the direction in which our country is going, or have any voice in the kind of leadership our country may choose?
In other words, where do God & country meet? How can we be good Christians & yet good citizens? Can we be both, or do we have to be one or the other? Do we have to sacrifice our love of God for love of country, or vice-versa?
Well, I think we can be both good citizens & good Christians. I’m convinced that it’s not only possible, but that, as Christians, we have a holy obligation to be the best citizens that we can possibly be.
PROP. Let’s consider that idea & see just how we can be people whose love for God helps us to love our country.
I. REMEMBER GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY
A. First of all, we must realize that God is sovereign over government. The apostle Paul wrote, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except…" Except what? "…except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1)
Now that doesn’t mean God appointed Sadam Hussein or Hitler or Stalin & used them as puppets on His string. But it does mean that God has established the principle that government is needed to be in charge of society.
And as Christians, we are to be in submission to the governing authorities even though we may not always agree with them.
ILL. Dr. John MacArthur wrote: “Believers are to be model citizens, known as law-abiding not rabble-rousing, obedient rather than rebellious, respectful of government rather than demeaning of it. …a godly society, doing good & living peaceably within an ungodly society… so that the saving power of God is clearly seen.”
B. Going on to the next 2 vs’s of our Scripture text, we note that Paul is telling us that God has set up 2 reasons or purposes for government.
1. The first purpose is to do good. Listen to Paul’s words, “Rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right & he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good." (Romans 13:3-4a)
2. A 2nd purpose for government is to restrain evil. Verse 4 goes on to say, "But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."
ILL. You know that is true. Every time you hear a siren or see red lights behind you, what do you do? Do you look at the speedometer to see if you’re driving within the speed limit. And do you wonder, "Is my seat belt fastened? Do I have my insurance card? Is my inspection sticker up to date? Is my state license sticker current?"