by Rosie Adle
When we stay in a hotel, we understand it’s not our home, but that doesn’t mean we trash the joint. If we throw soiled tissues in an appropriate bin at home, we do no less in a hotel room. Our consciences are not meant for turning on and turning off.
So it is with life in this world. We are not home with the Lord in the fullest sense as long as we live outside eternity. Yet our small-time citizenship in this here-and-now land still counts for something important.
Christians are to obey civil authorities, recognizing that these officials have their standing for good purpose and order. God and secular government are not in a power struggle. It is the Lord Himself who grants all things to all people, including the civil authority that is in the hands of government officials.
Under good circumstances, then, a Christian need not wonder whether he ought to obey God or the government. In our explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism, the Table of Duties instructs us to obey as well as honor and respect the government, recognizing that the Lord bestows its power. As the Lord Himself is not in tension with the powers of the kingdom of the left, neither do we need to be.
We are called to responsible and agreeable citizenry. However, should the government require something of us that violates our Christian conscience, which is shaped, guided and normed by the Word of God, our honoring the First Commandment (and the rest of Scripture too) would overrule any civic ordinance. We prepare to face this in the days and years to come.
And in the meantime, we also ask that God will guide for our worldly leaders. We pray and work for laws that our Christians consciences might abide. We pay the taxes. We participate in the decision-making. We live peacefully as both citizens and guests. We put our dirty tissues in the trash wherever we are.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).