On July 1, 1867 Canada was officially born as an independent nation. Congratulations Canada on your milestone 150th birthday! On July 4, 1776 the United States declared its independence and became an independent nation. July 1 is Canada Day in Canada and July 4 is Independence Day in the U.S.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For 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 and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
“This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13: 1-7).
For all of our national warts, citizenship for those of us who have been blessed to be born in Canada or in the U.S. is a privilege. In both nations, liberties are treasured, the right to vote to select representatives is protected, and we enjoy religious freedom.
That was not the case in biblical times. God both warned against nationhood and nationalism and called his people to submit to political leaders because all authority is given by God.
God called Israel to be a holy nation: a people who singularly focused on obedient living. When they begged him to give them a king so that they could be like the nations around them, God warned them. Through the prophet Samuel, God told them to be careful what they wished for, because it would not go well. They persisted, God allowed it, and it ended badly. There has never been and never will be a perfectly good human leader.
Some among Jesus’ followers wanted him to upend Rome. The Jewish people wanted the foot of Rome to be taken from their necks. They had not learned from the stories of Saul, David, and the rest of their kings. They wanted Jesus to reclaim David’s physical throne and reestablish the national power of Israel. On the Mount of Olives, they chanted and cheered him on. Jesus would have been the perfect leader. But, instead of ascending a throne in Jerusalem that day, he wept. The people did not understand. It is through God’s obedient people, and not through political kingdoms, that God brings his kingdom.
Those of us who are believers with a reformed worldview do not accept parallelism. We believe that God reigns, that his kingdom is ever advancing, and that every square inch of creation belongs to God.
Therefore, reformed believers do not let governments do their own thing without seeking to influence decisions and be decision-makers for Christ. Christians belong in government, not to promote theocratic rule, but to seek justice and love mercy and seek to bathe deliberations in our faith perspective of loving God above all and our neighbors as ourselves.
Christian resistance to governments should never be violent or vile. Instead, resistance by believers must be in the context of honor and respect for the points of view of those with whom we disagree. God said so!
Jesus could have destroyed mighty Rome with a single word. Before his ministry even started, Satan tempted him to do just that. Satan offered him all of the kingdoms of the world, if he would just bow to him. Even Satan knew that earthly power is temporal, corrupts, and is not God’s way of obedience.
Rome certainly deserved God’s wrath. Caesar claimed to be god. Rome controlled its subjects with cruel punishments, including the most horrible, crucifixions. Soon after Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, the Roman emperor would execute him, and Paul knew the time was coming.
Still, Paul wrote to the Romans that even those Roman emperors are to be respected and honored. Their day would come, but in the meantime, their earthly authority was allowed by God. So, yield willingly to them by paying your taxes. Respect them. Honor them.
The words of Romans 13 are for us today, too. In Canada and in the U.S. our governments and our leaders are in place today because God has allowed it. It is our duty as followers for Christ to apply the words from Paul. Whether we agree or disagree with direction or decisions, do so with respect. Whether we agree or disagree with our leaders, honor them because God says so.
Freedom to serve God without the restraint of government control is our greatest liberty. It should be our primary reason to celebrate Canada Day and Independence Day, giving thanks to God.
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services