America is a beautiful and privileged place. The founding fathers of the United States sought to create a system of government where the people had the power and responsibility to elect their president rather than the monarchical system they were under in Great Britain. They believed “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government” (Declaration of Independence). They believed that government is of the people, by the people and for the people (Lincoln). Since our nations beginning, the responsibility and privilege of voting has increased from mere white men who owned property at age of 21, to any race (15th Amendment), to females (19th Amendment), lowering the voting age to 18.
This week is another important election in our nation. America will either continue with its 44th POTUS in Barack Obama or move to its 45th with Mitt Romney. Many voters have or are deciding which candidate best aligns with their personal values and political views. As a Pastor, I have encouraged you toward VIP Voting – Vote In Principles. In other words, the exhortation is to vote according to the principles of your faith and found in the Bible.
Typically, our problem with candidates is not so much with what they say as what they do. It is often the case that what they say inspires and influences us but then what they actually do disappoints us. Do you remember the primaries when there were multiple candidates but one by one they dropped, and many due to their moral actions. Unfortunately, we have come to expect and equate duplicity with politics. Moral authority is essentially absent from our nations leaders.
Did you know political parties had this problem in Jesus’ day? Jesus addressed religious and government politics in a way that is needed for believers to understand and apply for our day. In Luke 20 we can see 3 principles of believers relating to authority.
EXAMINE Luke 20 Kingdom: Authority
Jesus focused on gospel authority; Christians should boldly proclaim the gospel (20:1-18)
In another moment of the gospels we see Jesus doing what He is usually doing – teaching people. At the core of Jesus’ ministry was Him speaking and teaching people about God and His kingdom. The content of His teaching was always the good news of the kingdom (Luke 4:43).
Good news is the meaning for the word gospel; it is more than advice or commands from a person but an announcement of what God is doing and did.
The gospel in Jesus’ day would have been looking at the present and forward – the announcement that
– He “was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2) and
– equal with the God of Abraham (John 8:58),
– that He has come through “good news of great joy that will be for all the people – a Savior is born” (Luke 2:10-11);
– the kingdom of God is among you (Mark 1:15);
– light has entered the world (John 1:9).
The gospel in our day is the same but looking backward – that Christ has defeated sin, Satan and death (Colossians 2:9-15). In Him there is freedom and life. It is a message that transcends all others and should be proclaimed boldly with an open invitation for all peoples. Jesus has come. Jesus is risen from the grace and He is king and Lord. Jesus has all authority.
And the people knew He had authority (Luke 4:32, 36; 5:24; 9:1; 10:19; 12:5; 20:2, 8). They had heard Jesus teach before, seen Him heal the paralyzed and sick, and even raise the dead. The religious leaders are gathering now because Jesus’ authority challenges their perception and position before the people. So, they question Jesus on the source of His authority.
Jesus responds to their questions with more questions and referenced John the Baptizer. If the religious leaders discounted John they would likewise reject Jesus. The problem was the crowds respected John so they had difficulty removing Jesus. Jesus’ focus was on the authority of the gospel rather than religious and political authority.
ð As Christians we proclaim the gospel with our lips and promote Jesus with our lives. We must never minimize the gospel as mere introductory to our faith but magnify it as the totality of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
- Christians must see every arena of life (family, church, work/school) through the lens of the gospel.
- Unbelievers, must grow to see authority as something to follow than forsake. Freedom is found not by forsaking authority but by following it.
After silencing the religious leaders, Jesus told a parable. It was about a land owner who rented out a vineyard to tenant workers. After time, the owner sent a servant to some fruit of the vineyard but the tenants rejected him. This happened with 3 different servants and each one returning empty handed. So, the landowner decides to send his very own son believing they will respect him. Yet, they had no respect only rejection even for the son (forsaking authority). So, the landowner is assured to come and destroy the tenant workers and give it away to others.
Jesus related this parable to God’s sending His law, prophets and warnings yet Israel rejected each one. The vineyard (salvation) would be taken from Israel and given to those who would receive it – Gentiles.
Jesus respected earthly authority; Christians should sincerely participate as earthly citizens (20:19-25a)
The teachings of Jesus were audacious and authoritative. He posed such a great threat that His enemies sought to mix religion and politics. They conspired together with the government authority of Rome. They asked, “Is it lawful for us [Jews] to give tribute [personal taxes beyond public business/trade] to Caesar?” They thought they had Jesus cornered – either He would affirm the Roman tax and lose popularity among the Jewish crowds or He would deny the Roman tax and likely suffer His life.
However, Jesus’ response was unforeseen and far-reaching. He was on to their flattery and cunning craftiness. So, He asks for a coin with the inscription of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. This is unique because the Jews would not have used Roman currency among their own even though it certainly held monetary value. The point is that Jesus uses the coinage of Rome for a purpose showing the inscription and proclaiming “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”.
ð Jesus’ point was that believers are citizens of 2 kingdoms: Heaven and Earth. They should be exemplary in both kingdoms.
- in the world but not of it (John 17:16)
- believers citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20)
ð Christians can and should participate as earthly citizens. Here are a several ways:
- Honor your father and mother (Ex 20:12; Eph 6:1-4; Col 3)
- Do not murder, or hold angry, bitter grudges (Ex 20:13; Matt 5)
- Do not commit adultery, or have lustful thoughts (Ex 20:14; Matthew 5)
- Do not steal or covet but be content with God’s provision in life (Ex 20:15; Mat 5; Heb 13:5)
- Do not lie, but hold firm to your commitments and do not gossip (Ex 20:16; Mat 5; Eph 4)
- Seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless and plead the widows cause (Isa 1:17)
- Do to others as you would have them do to you (Mat 7:12)
- Love, honor and show hospitality to one another (Luke 10:27; Rom 12:10, 13)
- Honor governing authorities (Rom 13:1; 1Pet 2:13-17)
- Pray for those in governing positions (1Tim 2:1)
- Prayer would likely also imply participation alongside as in today’s voting & support
à VIP Voting: Vote In Principle
ð If Jesus, and the NT, commanded honor and submission to Rome with its dictatorial power and deliberate elimination of Christianity, should not Christians support today’s government regardless if a Democrat or Republican is in office?
- Christians have always been “exiles” and “sojourners” living in this world in light of another.
Jesus demonstrated God’s authority; Christians should decidedly practice His mission (20:25)
In affirming earthly citizenship Jesus was saying political apathy is not acceptable. In fact, the applications were in full agreement with the practice of His ethical teaching and justice/mercy causes seen in the Gospels of meeting needs. However, earthly citizenship does not mean political primacy in God’s kingdom.
Jesus says, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” In other words, politics are not primary.
Christians are to respect the government but not revere it. There is only one God, one Savior, one Lord and His headquarters was not in Rome – nor 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Only Jesus Christ is worthy of worship. His name is above all other names.
President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney are worthy of honor but never our hope. Our hope should not be in governing authorities that pass with each military power or public election. As Christians, “we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28);
“we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Php 3:20-21)
Therefore, the Christian’s responsibility to the state may have limits if and when its authorities clash with God’s kingdom authority.
What is the mission of the church? What is success for each election process in the United States of America?
Let me be clear and say that the successful mission of Jesus is not advancing a Republican or a Democrat agenda. Jesus is more concerned with advancement of the gospel and His glory.
In other words, Christians should place greater emphasis and energy, time, talent and treasure into saving the lost (Luke 19:10) than on saving a country. The Christian’s mission is far greater than a single country but extends internationally to “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
2Timothy 2:4 “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
At the end of Jesus’ teaching and statements the religious leaders marveled and became silent at Jesus. They realized life was not trying to force Jesus to defend Himself but them having to stand account before God.
As you stand before a mirror, do you try to change your reflection or your actual self?
µ Jesus calls you to give an account – give God what is properly due Him.
Imagine your life were an open book.
Every conversation recorded. Every errant word written down. Every gaffe broadcast before all.
What if everything you ever did was fair game?
What if every action and every decision were held up to the severest scrutiny?
What if all your last minute apologies failed to satisfy?
How would you feel to realize someone knew everything about your past? And someone was chronicling everything about your present?
How would you like to face a barrage of questions for every inconsistency in your life?
What a fearful proposition: anything you ever say or ever do can, and often will, be held against you. If an adversary so desired, he could paint an ugly picture of any of us. And without resorting to lies.
It’s a scary thought to think that your whole life could be an open book. With defenses that do not hold, and sorry’s that do not stick, and excuses which only make things worse.
And that’s the day of judgment without the blood of Christ.
This message has been influenced from several resources, to list 3: