Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Citizenship Day: Godly Citizenship

Romans 13:1-7

Rev. Christopher Phil Daniel

St. Stephen's MTC, NJ
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.

It has often been said that God has established three institutions – the home (family), the church, and the state.  And He has even provided specific instructions on how all three are to operate.  Most Christians feel as if they have a good grasp on what God has to say about the home and church; however, there seems to be some confusion as to how Christians should relate to the state or governing authorities.  The selected text addresses this question directly.  In fact, Romans 13 is the central New Testament passage regarding the relationship between Christians and the government.
St. Paul is quite frank when he addresses this topic and provides an explicit directive: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities.” The phrase “be subject” that is used here refers to submission.  Submission is not entirely the same as obedience, though the two are related. Obedience relates to outward performance, while submission addresses the attitude of our hearts toward those who rule over us. This distinction is critical because we may not always be able to obey those who rule over us, but we can always have a heart or attitude of submission. 
Submission also involves believing that God is able to accomplish His will in our lives through those He has placed in authority over us.  This understanding is of utmost importance because it focuses the attention on God, not on the persons over us.  Again, what is of importance is the attitude of our hearts.  We submit to the ones in authority in the sense that we believe that God has put that person in our lives for a purpose and that God’s will is somehow being done through that person even if we do not see or understand it.  Thus, one of our duties as citizens is to keep the governing authorities in our prayers, asking God to enable such authorities to fulfill His will by acting justly, by loving mercy, and by walking humbly before the Almighty God.
As believers, we are citizens of heaven, and as members of the human race, we have citizenship in the USA or in some other country.  Very simply put, this means that we have dual citizenship – on earth and in heaven.  As citizens of both realms, God calls us to submit ourselves to those who are in authority over us, to obey the laws, to do what is right, to show honor and respect, and to practice love and compassion.  As Christians, God calls us to take our rightful place as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for having established all governing authorities with the intention to uphold justice and peace in our society.  Lord we know that our officials are not perfect, and we ask that you give them the needed strength to discern and implement your holy will.  Help us Lord to be righteous citizens of both heaven and earth by being the salt and light of the world.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. 

Thought for the day: As the people of God, we are called to submit to the governing authorities and live as model citizens of both heaven and earth.