This past week our nation observed the anniversary of its Independence Day. Regardless of our American forebears’ sin throwing off their God-given ruler, 243 years later, for better or for worse, we have the form of government that they left to us.
The Lord Jesus Christ, Who Himself submitted to the governing authorities of His day in suffering and dying for the sins of the world, calls us similarly to submit to our authorities, even if we have to suffer. Unless the government would have us disobey God, He and His inspired apostles would have us “render to Caesar” such things as taxes, revenue, respect, and honor. (See Matthew 17:25; 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; John 19:1; Acts 4:19; 5:29; Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-16).
In the past, I have wrestled with paying taxes that are used for purposes contrary to God’s commands, such as funding abortions that take away His gift of life. But, when we consider that Jesus and St. Paul spoke and wrote at a time when the Roman government may have been doing even worse things than our government does, including martyring Jesus and Paul, the command to pay taxes arguably is unqualified.
Although we might do so around the Fourth of July, the rest of the year we may not thank and petition God enough in connection with our rulers. Ultimately such petitions are for our benefit and for the benefit of others: that we might lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way, and that all people might be saved through repentance and faith in Jesus. (See 1 Timothy 2:1-6.)
Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings may hold out some hope for our continuing to have the freedom to exercise our religion inside and outside of our church buildings, but even if that freedom is eventually denied us, we do not need to be afraid. For, we know that if we suffer unjustly we are suffering as Christ did (1 Peter 2:20-23) and that the Holy Spirit will give us what to say (see Matthew 10:17-20; Mark 13:9-11; Luke 21:12-15),
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.