(…continued) In his Small Catechism explanation to the 4th petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Martin Luther listed many of the things God has given us for which we should give thanks. Included in that list is the gift of “good government.” Despite all the problems with our government, and for all that we complain about it; in this corrupt and sinful world, what we have here is about as good as it gets. That is why dozens of the world’s nations have patterned their constitutions after ours. One writer called the United States Constitution ‘our greatest export.’ Abraham Lincoln had a deep appreciation for our democracy, so he endured, with this nation, four years of a devastating Civil War to preserve what he called this world’s “last best hope” in government.
It takes a moral people to make our nation work, but that is not to say that we are Christians in order to be good citizens. Rather, we are Christians because we believe in God as revealed in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Our primary calling and duty in life is, therefore, is to obey God and live for Jesus. But obedience to God will make us better citizens, and the moral strength of such faith and obedience, provides is the hoped for support referred to by the Founding Fathers. Even governments that have been openly opposed to Christianity, such as ancient Rome, Communist China, and the former Soviet Union, have had to admit that good Christians make good citizens.
Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar (that is to say, the government) the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s;” encouraging our respect and obedience. In his letter to Titus, Paul said, “Remind everyone to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, and to be ready for every good deed.” Peter said we should submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake to such human institutions, so that “by doing right we may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” And Romans 13 tells us to, “be subject to the governing authorities for their authority is established by God.”
But there is a limit to that obedience, as we read in Acts chapter five where the authorities told Peter and the apostles to stop doing what God had commanded them to do. Peter refused saying, “No, we must obey God, and not men.” That huge exception is there because, as you know, as good as our government is in comparison to most others, it has been far from perfect. We have been guilty of some terrible national sins. (continued…)
Watch this five-minute video on the religious roots of America:
Matthew 22:21b — (Jesus said), “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Titus 3:1-2 — Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
I Peter 2:13-14 — Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
Acts 5:29 — But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”
Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.
–Verse four of “America”, 1831, by Samuel Francis Smith (1808-1895)