But our citizenship is in heaven – and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.
(Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)
As citizens of heaven Christians are ultimately under the authority of God. While we are to respect and obey earthly rulers, we are not to look to them for moral guidance. As Paul previously described, people who are not believers are enemies of Christ [Philippians 3:18]. They can only think and behave in earthly ways.
There is an interesting play on words in this passage in the original Greek. The words used for “savior” (σοτερ; pronounced: so-tare’) and “Lord” (κυριοσ; pronounced: koo’-ree-os) were titles given to Caesar. Caesars were considered gods in ancient Rome and they demanded to be recognized as such. In fact, just a few years after Paul penned this letter Christians would begin to be martyred for not calling Caesar “lord”.
But here Paul applies these words to Jesus, boldly stating that Jesus is the one – and the only one – to whom followers of The Way (as Christianity was called back then) should have allegiance. Paul is clearly stating that government leaders are not gods, nor are they the ultimate authority on morality.
All authority on earth comes from God and, as such, should be honored [Romans 13:1-7]. But it should be noted that not all leaders are good leaders. King Saul, the first king of Israel is a good example of this as were all the kings of Israel after Solomon. Sometimes God gives nations poor leaders in order to demonstrate to the population the foolishness of placing trust in sinful human beings rather than in Him.
Over the past several decades the people of the United States have turned away from having God as their authority and instead are turned to our leaders for direction. Our country seems to be in a never-ending tug-of-war between political parties, each of whose followers think have the best solution to America’s economic and moral issues. Anyone who thinks like this is wrong.
The reason there are so many problems is precisely because we have been letting fallible human beings decide our course. Human leaders can tell us what they allow. But only God can tell us what is right. Just because the Supreme Court tells us something is lawful (e.g. abortion, pornography, same-sex marriage) does not mean that such behavior is beneficial.
The vast majority of people in America turn to our judicial system for justice. They want our legislature to pass new laws promoting their definition of morality and they want the executive branch to enforce those laws. Sadly this can never work. No human being – not even government – can save ourselves from ourselves.
Only God can do that.
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