We live in “interesting” times. The COVID issue (the disease plus the measures taken to manage it) has divided many in our nation. This week we have seen violent protests in Melbourne, as well as less confrontational events in other capitals. How are we to think about this? When and how should Christians object?
Firstly, we need to note that Jesus was not a political revolutionary. He supported the valid authority of the Roman state, stating that we are to “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, with the proviso of that we must also give “to God what is God’s” (Lk 20.25 NIV11). The Apostle Paul echoes this when he tells us that our obedience to the state (within Jesus’ limit) is an expression of our obedience to God (see Rom 13.2).
So how do we determine when “Caesar” is asking us to give too much, claiming that which we owe to God alone? And, more pointedly, is that where we are now?
Simply is the state claiming an allegiance that is not theirs to claim, or are they attempting to subvert our allegiance to our King? At this point, I don’t believe that this is the case.
Does this mean we never object to decisions that don’t cross this line, but which we find personally objectionable? Not at all. We live in a democracy where we are free to express our opinions, and we can avail ourselves of that democratic freedom (that so many do not enjoy). We can contact our local members and express our concerns. We can speak publicly. However, we should resist the temptation to spiritualise our arguments, dressing them up in spiritual language to imply that they are more than our sincerely held opinions.
In conclusion, it is important to note that Jesus told his disciples to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” just a few days before Caesar’s representative, Pilate, would commit one of the most notorious acts of judicial expedience, surrendering Jesus to be crucified (Lk. 23.25). Jesus modelled both submission to authority and complete trust in the power and plan of his Father as one who gave “to God what is God’s” (Lk 20.25 NIV11).
Senior Pastor | Trinity Church Brighton
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