The world prefers Caesar to Christ, even if a tyrant. Sometimes even people who claim God (John 19:15). And Caesar has many faces. Whether a totalitarian, a monarch, a socialistic state, a democratic republic, or the autocratic self, these are the kingdoms of Caesar—the kingdoms of this world (Matthew 4:8).
Many in this world look to Caesar, not Christ, for hope. Government as savior is nothing new. In Christ’s day, Caesar was ascribed: Divus et Pontifex Maximus, Divine and Highest Priest. Worshipped as a god, Caesar was the savior of his people. Still today, people look to Caesar for supply, security, safety, shalom, and satisfaction in this life. As those who worship Christ, we openly acknowledge that no political government, candidate, or party can provide such things in any true and abiding sense. While many in America look to Caesar for what only Christ can provide, we do not. Yet, because the mind is so easily shackled by the grip of the here and now, even Christians are not immune to the tendency of becoming more impassioned about government than God, more preoccupied with Caesar than Christ.
This tendency is especially true as we approach our next presidential election. But there are other factors to consider at such a time as this. For example, many are confused concerning the relationship between the Church and the State. Some merge the two, at least morally. Others assume they are entirely mutually exclusive. Many misuse the Bible to support their political views and presuppositions. Each of these is owing to a lack of clarity concerning God’s principles for civil government and a proper allegiance to Christ.
On the other hand, many Christians who rest in the sovereign rule of God assume little to no civil responsibility. Practical fatalism is their default. Their presumption is, “my choices and my vote do not matter.” Still others assume a sort of private Christocracy in public anarchy. As though all civil government is evil and obedience to Christ disregards civil authorities.
For these reasons, we are planning a special shepherding sermon that aims to offer pastoral guidance and encouragement to both understand and act on biblical principles of government. It will center on Matthew 22:15-22, which is the passage that inspired the Reformation doctrine distinguishing civil and religious authorities and emphasizing our dual citizenship. It was the Reformers teaching on this passage that led to what proved foundational for the constitutional separation of Church and State in America. It is our hope that we will gain a greater clarity and conviction in these matters to better see and steward our privileges and responsibilities.
The pulpit is not for politics. But the Church is the pillar and buttress of the truth, and who will be the prophetic voice of truth to the State if not the Church? Moreover, how are we as Christians to pray, think, speak, and act politically? Your conversations matter. Your complaints matter. Your vote matters. We do all of these things before the face of God, and that matters. This is not a call to partisanship. We are chiefly concerned not with who wins the elections but with whom we render our allegiance, trust, and hope. It is about the relationship and relevance of the government and glory of Christ and Caesar.
May we render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to Christ the things that are Christ’s. For He alone is Lord of lords and King of kings—Christ rules Caesar.