|Vol. 13 No. 11 November 2011||
The Bible teaches that Christians are a peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9). They are a peculiar people because they do not follow the standard set by the world, but they are trying to live by following the steps of Christ as they are taught (1 Peter 2:21). Christ said His followers are in the world but are not of the world, as He was not of the world when He was on earth (John 17:14-16). The apostle Paul wrote, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Sure, on earth we are citizens of the country in which we live, and as Christians we are a responsible people in our nation. Our first responsibility, however, is to God, as Christ taught in Matthew 6:33. We must, therefore, try to live daily our lives on earth in such manner that through all our actions God`s name may be glorified (Matthew 5:16).
As Christians we are also responsible to our fellow beings; Christ taught, “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). We want others to speak well of us and to do good for us, and so we should do likewise towards others. We do not want others to cheat us, to lie to us or to harm us in any way, and so we must first do the same to others.
As Christians we owe a debt to our nation. We enjoy freedom and protection from evil and lawless men. Only a settled government can provide such. Then, there are a wide range of public services all of us enjoy each day, and there is no way that each individual could provide for himself services such as water, electricity, sewage, etc. This places us under obligatory debt. As responsible citizens, we know that to fail in good citizenship is to fail the Lord to whom we belong. We must, therefore, adhere to civil obedience. There may be things we may not like, or we might think those things should be handled or done differently than they are presently being done. However, instead of grumbling, we should be thankful for those things we have and enjoy each day.
Yet, if there is a law that violates the will of God, the Christian should resist and have no part in it (Acts 5:29), but the child of God will never take thought of vengeance or revenge. The Bible teaches, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).
As Christians we believe the government is divinely ordained of God. This means we are to discharge our duty as law abiding citizens, even if evil men are serving in high places. We believe that God is supreme and nothing is hidden from His eyes. As obedient children of God, we try to live peaceably with all men, taking no thought of vengeance or revenge. We trust in God, and even if a tyrant is on the throne, we must follow what God has taught us in His Bible. Romans 13:1-7 says:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good. And you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, and avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Again, we read:
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men — as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
God fearing and law abiding Christians, therefore, will never join those who are involved in civil disobedience. We may disagree when a law is contrary to the law of God and is against the people in general, but in such a case, we can work to change that law to conform to the divine law. For the betterment of all people we have the opportunity to exercise our constitutional right to vote, but we must never seek to bring such a change by becoming law-breakers.
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will
for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
The fourth Thursday of each November, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s a day set aside to remember how blessed we are as a nation [USA], and to give thanks for these blessings. Certainly, it is right for us to do so. As Americans, consider our standard of living, the degree of material prosperity we enjoy and all the other blessings of which we benefit by being citizens of this country. In other nations, poverty, the horror of war and terrorism, and a general uncertainty about life are grim realities of daily living. Even with all the problems our society faces, there is much for which to be thankful.
The attitude of thanksgiving is basic to being a Christian. Scripture reminds us of the blessings we enjoy from God each day, and how grateful we should be. As Paul reminded the Colossians, we should have hearts “overflowing with gratitude” (Colossians 2:7). God is not only the source of our physical blessings (James 1:17), but all that is spiritual (Ephesians 1:3).
Even in adversity, we can still give thanks. God can use times of trial to discipline us, to draw us closer to Him (Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 Peter 1:6-7). Even in distress, we know God is with us, to strengthen and help us along the way. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
No wonder we are exhorted, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). If all one can do is murmur or complain, that person does not understand what life in Christ is all about. Make thanksgiving more than a holiday, but also a way of life. Take time to consider all the ways God has blessed you physically, materially and most importantly, spiritually. To realize the richness of His blessings should promote thankfulness from the heart. “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psalm 106:1).