Bad Ideas of Christians About Government | Dangerous River #1
Day 1 | Bad Ideas Christians Have about Government | Dangerous River #1
Have you ever had a bad idea and just ran with it? As a teenager, I remember my buddy and I were out driving his 4x4, when we drove up to a flooded creek that turned into a small river. Underestimating the power of the current, and overestimating the truck, my buddy slapped the dash and said, “The heavy Chevy can make it through anything.” Within a matter of seconds, we found ourselves being swept down the river, bouncing from boulder to boulder in a full-size K5 Chevy Blazer!
In today’s culture, we sometimes get a bad idea, and just run with it, giving little thought or consideration to the ramifications of these ideas. As a result, we are swept down the dangerous rivers of thought regarding Ideas for Christians ideas about government.
DANGEROUS RIVER #1 GOVERNMENT SHOULD REQUIRE RELIGION
The first river of thought is that government should require religion. This is a bad idea for many reasons. First of all, forcing anyone into faith goes against plain Bible teaching. There are many people who have pressured others into making a decision for Jesus Christ, from eager preachers to wishful wives that want their husbands to accept Christ. Jesus is different; he extends an invitation to know and follow him. In Matthew 11:28, we learn that he offers an invitation to come and follow him, and he will give rest for the souls. Coming to Christ is a choice that we make, a decision to follow him, while the Holy Spirit works within the will to empower us. The Bible affirms the idea that faith is a personal choice. Anytime anyone tries to force it, faith is not genuine. Biblical faith is about the freedom to accept or reject the claims of Jesus.
Secondly, Jesus affirmed the idea of keeping religion separated from the government. In Matthew 22:18, we learn about a group of religious leaders that are seeking to trap Jesus by asking controversial questions in public. On this occasion, we find in Matthew’s account that Jesus is asked about his views regarding taxes. They start with a question:
“Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
In responding, Jesus creates a distinction between religion and government by saying, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” He is implying that God’s people should be faithful to fulfill their faith practices, for example, tithing their income to help aid ministry in the local places of worship. In addition, as residents within the Roman empire, they were subject to the governing powers. Despite the fact that Rome widely held to pagan practices that directly contradicted both Jews and new followers of Jesus, Jesus didn’t view all government as evil. Rather, he challenges believers to abide by the laws of the land, as long as they don’t cause the believer to violate God’s laws.
While many other faith groups have fought to force faith on others, God’s Word doesn’t advocate the idea that people or any government should force faith on anyone. This is the beauty of the USA! We have freedom of religion: the right to choose, the right to assemble, and to adhere to one’s faith practices without the interference of the government. As our Constitution states in the First Amendment regarding religion and expression “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We live in a great country, and the last thing we need is government-sponsored religion. We need vibrant Christians and churches influencing the government and political atmosphere, not the other way around.