Fear God and honor the king! (1)
Fearing God is the easier of the two parts of this command.
Honor the king! I am having a problem with this one, especially as the narcissistic stalemate in Washington DC, continues to rule on the basis of self-interest, money, and power.
Our leaders have abandoned the form of government advocated by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people!”
Paul’s statement that all sin and fall short of the glory of God (2) is hard to dispute when examining the current political culture of the United States.
Christians have historically struggled with Jesus’ teaching “Give to Caesar what is his and give to God what is His.” (3)
Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, has provided the best explanation of what Jesus meant:
The secular government doesn’t extend any further than external and physical matters. God can tolerate secular government because it doesn’t concern itself with sin, good works, or spiritual matters. Instead, it handles other matters, such as guarding cities, building bridges, collecting tolls and taxes, providing protection, defending the land and the people, and punishing criminals.
So Christians should obey government officials as long as these officials don’t command them to do something against their consciences.
If an emperor or prince were to ask me about my faith, I surely would tell him, not because of his governmental authority, but because I should confess my faith publicly.
If, however, he ordered me to believe this or that, I would say, “Sir, take care of the secular government. You have no authority intruding on God’s kingdom. I will not obey you. You cannot tolerate anyone intruding on your domain. If someone oversteps their boundary without your permission, you shoot them. Do you think that God should tolerate your desire to push him off his throne and seat yourself in his place?” (4)
As the people of God we need to pray and work to keep the civil government from meddling in the affairs of God.
As you celebrate our nation’s independence today, established primarily to protect religious liberties, pray for our leaders, more and more of them believe everything belongs to Caesar.
As fear of God is replaced by expanding honor for the king our great nation grows weaker.
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1 Peter 2:17 .
Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 185). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.