Read Romans 13 and it seems pretty clear: Christ followers ought to obey and honor the government, including paying taxes.
In fact, Jesus himself tells people to pay taxes and respect authority.
Seems pretty straightforward.
Except for Miriam, Esther, David, Johnathan, Jael, Jonah, Joshua, Caleb, Rahab, Samson, Jesus, all the disciples and Paul himself…who wrote Romans 13 while likely a avoiding arrest for disobedience to the Roman Empire.
No where in Scripture do we see Miriam punished for disobeying pharaohs order to kill her infant brother. Nowhere in Scripture do we see Esther punished for planning a coup against Hamman or for pleading for justice for her people. Or David for defying Saul. Or Rahab for hiding spies. Or Joshua for crossing into the boarders of another nation. Or Jonah for defying the laws of Nineva to preach. Or Paul for evading arrest.
Paying taxes and following common laws of order and property is one thing. But when The Gospel, The Church, or the lives of innocent people are at stake, there is a clear Biblical precedence: Christians are no longer under any obligation by God to obey. On the contrary: God empowers his people with supernatural boldness, grace, humility, and authority to fight against injustice, whether it is against a single individual or an entire generation.
We also see this same pattern in Christians standing against false religions and false doctrines.
When the ruling of a government results in death, agony, or cruelty the people of God have always stood their ground.
This pattern continued on after the Biblical story ended. It continued on with Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, William and Catherine Booth, Corrie Ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Theresa.
It continues on everyday all across the world as Christians boldly proclaim the Gospel and send humanitarian aid to foreign countries.
Most recently, a single Christian non-profit raised TWENTY TWO MILLION DOLLARS in 48 hours to aid the Afghani people and American Citizens abandoned by our President.
I’m gonna say something offensive and I mean every. last. word of it: when governments fail, the people of God ALWAYS step up first. ALWAYS.
It was Christians who fought to end slavery and expose it’s true brutality.
It was Christians who began the fight against human trafficking. (William and Catherine Booth – Founders of the Salvation Army)
It was Christians who hid Jewish people, smuggled them food, executed their torturers.
And it is Christians who fight for the unborn. Every day. Relentlessly.
And now my point…
When the government stands up and the tells the people of God how to gather its church together, how to worship or even if we are allowed to do so, what must or must not be done in our places of worship, they’ve crossed the line from “order” to injustice. We are not obligated to obey. Just as the early church was not.
I never sang so loud in church, as I did the Sunday after my Governor told people of faith we were no longer allowed to sing together. What madness!!
When the actions of the government results in suicide and self harm and abuse and depression and fear, they have ignored the justice of God and his intent for the role of government and Christ Followers will be on the front lines of those calling out our officials.
When the orders of the government KILL people but are touted as “for the greater good” the entire Biblical Narrative, and I dare say every voice in Heaven, stands up as an authority and demands truth and justice.
Not equity. Not social justice. Not comprise. JUSTICE. The justice of God against inhuman levels of destruction and death and despair.
Church. You were absolutely born for such a time as this.
This stopped being about the things and started being about the people a long time ago.
The Church of Jesus Christ does not bow to anyone but him. We can be good citizens and boldly stand for truth at the same time.
Boldness and humility are not at war with each other; they only make one another more stunning to behold.
This Sunday, when you go to church, sing with all the freedom you have in Christ. Hug someone. Smile!! Dare to lean into someone else’s suffering.
If we are not the light in this darkness, there will not be a light. If we are not the open arms in the the midst of this season, there will be no open arms.
We are it, friends.
We are the face of Jesus to the crowds. Whether your crowd be a small town of 200 or the middle of Brooklynn.
Truth follows Jesus whoever he goes. And may truth follow you also.
And may you go in peace, with the boldness of Christ into whatever place he calls you.