God and Government Acts 25:1-12

The following is the transcript from the July 3, 2016 service at the Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa. 

A Father was trying to teach his fifth-grade son the value of tithes and offerings. The boy listened attentively, and then he went on to say, “I still don’t understand why you have to pay taxes.”

To this the Father replied, “Because the Bible says we must give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and unto God what belongs to God.”

His son looked puzzled. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Dad. Caesar died a long time ago.” 

Ah the age old question, ‘As Christians what is our duty to our government? How do we treat our leaders especially if we don’t like them so well? If we are citizens of Heaven then what does that mean about our citizenship here? Do we owe a duty to our nation or is that secondary. Today, on July 3rd we want to look at a passage that speaks to all of these questions if we are willing to listen to it.

To understand what it says we have to know who the people are that are mentioned, when you do that and then look at the words and actions of Paul, I think that we get a clear picture not of how he would tell us to act as citizens of our nation, but a clear picture of how he actually acted as an apostle of God and a citizen of the Roman Empire, even towards people who maybe didn’t warrant respect in human terms.

As we begin to look at these people and this passage I think we can be informed by keeping the words of Paul in Romans 13:1 in mind. Paul wrote,

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” 

The words of Paul speak to a respect for the authorities in our life both on a personal and on a national level because God is the one who has put them there. Those are the words of Paul but as we look at this passage the life of Paul carries with it the same message. 

Let’s take a look at how he acts for a guideline of how we should act. 

First we owe respect to our government. It doesn’t matter if we don’t feel if they deserve it. As Paul would write in his letter to Romans in our background passage, 

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” 

It’s not just he wrote it, he lived it. Paul has been put in a position where now he’s going to stay under arrest until he is taken to Rome. It’s going to work out for him in a sense, but you’d still be frustrated. 

But before he goes he has to have one more trial, before a guy and his sister who don’t exactly have a great reputation. They come from a line for people who don’t have a great reputation; compare that to Paul is able to stand up, in the temple and in court and profess his righteousness. 

But look at how he greets them in Chapter 26 starting in verse 2, 

“King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.” 

We have to treat our government and our leaders with respect. We may not always agree with them, in fact the price of leadership is that people will not always agree with you, but we should always respect them. That is not just what Paul says it is what he does.

Second, we need to tell them about Jesus. By respecting them we get the right to be listened to. When they’re listening our message needs to be Jesus. That is our mission as a church and the people of God; we need to tell them about Jesus. Paul has done this so well and so often that even the religious leaders communicate the point for him. Look at verse 19, 

“They had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claims is alive.” 

Festus now has heard the center of the message, he doesn’t know what to do with it, but he has heard it. Paul is going to tell them all what to do with it in chapter 26.

But here’s the point for us, may that be our central message. Too many times in the churches recent past when it comes to politics our message has been about so many other things except Jesus. I’m not saying that all of those other things aren’t right. I’m not saying that they aren’t important. 

But the central message of the church needs to be Christ, the one whose name we bear. We need to introduce people to Him and when we do that then they become His disciples, then He will change their hearts and the other things will come into line. Some of those other things are vitally important but until people accept Christ into their lives they won’t accept His authority. The central message of the church, the central message of our lives must be Jesus, first and always.

See when we’ve told them about Jesus, when they know Him, then we can move to the next step, we need to call people to righteousness, and do our best to live a righteous life ourselves. 

Sometimes, I see the way that we live as a nation, I see the way that some people who would call themselves Christians live and I want to ask the question, “What ever happened to sin?” It’s not that it’s gone away; it’s that we don’t talk about it anymore. 

There are some things that we’re not supposed to do. Yes we serve a God of grace. Yes He died on a cross so that our sins could be forgiven, but that doesn’t mean that we are supposed to indulge in them. We get into relationships that we know we shouldn’t. We take the money that we know God has told us to give to Him and we spend it on us. We use those words that we know better than to use. We’re mean and judgmental when we’ve been commanded to love. We greet one person at church and ignore someone else, when we know better. We need to call our nation to righteousness and the live that way ourselves.

The lesson for us to take is that we are supposed to call the people around us to righteousness with our words and our lives. Paul didn’t just preach Jesus, he lived it. Notice that the cornerstone of his defense is that he could say that he had done nothing wrong, that he had lived a righteous life. If we want to see America be great again, we, the people of God who gather in the church of God, must follow in his footsteps and live and preach lives that reflect the righteousness of God.

Finally, we need to pray for our nation. Paul was praying for these people, in 26:29 Paul says, 

“Short time or long-I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” 

His prayer was for salvation for all people, even his nation. That is what our prayer should be.

We need to be in prayer for our country. It doesn’t matter who the President is, or if we like him or not. It doesn’t matter if we like the party that controls one or both houses of congress. As Christians, as the people called by His name, our duty and calling is to pray for our nation and our leaders. If we do that then God will bless America.