The city of Charlotte’s motto as host of the 2012 Democratic National Convention was “We make it possible.” The “we” is the government for as the committee reportedly said, “Government is the only thing that we all belong to. We have different churches, different clubs, but we’re together as a part of our city, or our county, or our state, and our nation.”
This begs an important question: Do the citizens belong to the government (whatever government that is) or does the government actually belong to them? If you’re a socialist, you would probably say that you belong to the government. If you’re a capitalist, you would probably say the government belongs to you. But what if you are a follower of Christ?
Jesus recognized the government of his day. For example, he said, “Render to Caesar that which belongs to Caeser.” But in the same breath he added, “Render…to God the things that are God’s,” (Mark 12:17).
The early church was instructed to pay their taxes, respect and pray for “kings and all who are in authority.” (Romans 13:7.) But neither Jesus nor the early church were told that they belonged to the government. The Bible does not advocate that family, church, and community associations all owe their existence to the government. As much as some would like us to think, life does not revolve around the government.
Having said that, however, Christians DO belong to a government. But it’s not the kind of government alluded to by the city of Charlotte’s convention motto.
The Bible says that Christians are citizens of heaven: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Phillippians 3:20, New International Version, ©1984). Jesus is the Head of the Church, serving in heaven as our Mediator between God and humanity (1 Timothy 2:5). He is also anointed as our coming King who will in due time return to reign in his glorious, world-wide Kingdom (Daniel 7:27; Luke 1:31-33; Rev. 19:16).
Christians answer first and foremost to this higher government rather than human government. Why? Because their lives belong to Jesus, their King. And their primary hope is that when Jesus returns to gather his Church, believers will be co-rulers with him (Romans 8:17). They will receive immortality at his return to earth (1 Corinthians 15:50-54) and receive positions of honour and glory in Christ’s Kingdom (Revelation 1:6).
In answer to the question of who belongs to the government, the truth is that everyone, including government, belongs to God. Believers recognize that God sets up human kings and governments and removes them, as well (Daniel 2:21). So while we are to obey and honour all those in authority, we must first answer to God’s authority and commands. For we know all too well that human government is not perfect and neither are those who hold political positions regardless what party one is affiliated with.
But the Good News is that God’s government IS perfect, for he is perfect. And only he, and his beloved Son, are worthy of our allegiance, honour, and worship. We do not worship human government. It does not serve as our Saviour. God, not human government, makes all things possible through Christ for nothing is impossible with him (Matthew 19:26).
-Pastor Michael P. Brown, Editor