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May 10, 2020

Submission TO & Stewardship OF Government

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Covid-19 Challenges

Keywords: submission, government, civil disobedience, covid-19

Summary:

There are times in history when God's people need to know what biblical submission to government is and what it isn't. This is such a time for those residing in Washington State and in many other parts of our nation and world with the COVID-19 crisis. This message also explores some of the issues related to biblical civil disobedience.

Detail:

Submission TO & Stewardship OF Government

May 10, 2020

      When I told Sandy what my title was for today’s sermon, she said, “Oh great!  I wonder how many women are going to think it’s a Mother’s Day sermon on submission?”  I told her that if that was the case, all I’d have to do was change the title to “Submission TO and Stewardship OF…Moms!” In which case it would become actually a “Children’s Day” sermon.  But I’ll leave that for another day.

      There are times in the life of the church when events of the day so rock and rearrange people’s lives that, in my opinion, a pastor needs to break from the normal routine of biblical exposition and address some of the pressing challenges people are facing due to whatever the crisis is.  9-11 was such a case 20 years ago.  COVID-19 is such a case today. 

      In reality, Covid has and will continue to rearrange more people’s lives in this world by far than 9-11 did.  This event is more on the scale of WWII because of the impact it will have world-wide on literally billions of people.  So, I think it will be important over the next few weeks and months to take short side-trips to Scripture in order to see what God has to say about some of the issues we all need to be better equipped to handle because of the current Covid crisis. 

NOTE:  About the divisiveness of this issue within churches.

Request:  Don’t check out part way in this message.  If you do, I can guarantee that you will come away with an incomplete and unbalanced view of what the Scriptures have to say about this issue. 

Let me try and set up the challenge before us as the church in the midst of this new crisis.   

      If I could state the tension I would ask the question this way: “How are we to faithfully submit to the governing authority God has placed over us without damaging or compromising the biblical call on us as the church?” 

      Here’s the tension, simply put.  If God calls His people to faithfully and consistently obey His call to live life together as the gathered people of God in worship, prayer, fellowship, ministry of the Word, Communion, Baptism, church-life and ministry one to another (and other things), what are we to do when government tells us we can’t?  How far is submission to government to go and what are we to do when what government asks of us is contrary to what God clearly asks of us? 

      This is the situation thousands of churches in Washington State have been facing over the past two months.  We’ve been told, yes, due to this genuine health crisis and the dangers of COVID-19, that we must, under penalty of law, stop all regular in-person ministry gatherings whether they be church services or Bible study dinners or virtually anything but electronic, computer-to-computer meetings such as Zoom or Facebook Live or YouTube.   

Let’s assume that our Governor has nothing but the best health interests of Washingtonians at heart.  I have no reason to really believe otherwise.  Is a health crisis, truly.  COVID-19 is, from what I have read and heard from health professionals, more dangerous and deadly than the average flu, especially for people with certain medical conditions—lung issues, immune-deficiency issues, obesity, diabetes, heart issues, etc and in an older age demographic.  The older you are, the more dangerous it is.  It seems to be more dangerous for African-Americans and Hispanics than Caucasians.  So there are genuine, real concerns that, if we are loving our neighbors well, we need to all be concerned about. 

      But at what point, if any, could our government be requiring of us something God has said we must not surrender?  Is it actually possible that submission to government does and should have limits for God’s children?

      But what gives me the authority to say that?  What gives me the right to say that God’s people do not owe unquestioned obedience and submission to government?  After all, God is very clear, according to Romans 13:1 that we are all to “be subject to the governing authorities” because “there is no authority except that which God has established.”  Jesus himself said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Mt. 22:21).

      So let’s take a look at just how much authority God has given to government and, by extension, how much submission we own them in this or any situation. So here’s what we’re going to look at today:

  1. What does the Bible say is to be our heart attitude and action when it comes to submission to government?
  2. What does the Bible say is to be the limits of our submission to government, if any?
  3. What should we be doing right now, then, with the situation we are facing with the governing authorities of the State of WA?
  4. How should we handle life with each other as the church given these biblical principles and the realities of COVID-19?

That should be enough to fill the next 25 minutes, no?