Judging the Line   1 comment

Christians are commanded by God through His scripture to be under authority. Our first allegiance is to His authority, but He also sets pastors and governments over us. Sometimes, however, those other people are wrong in their governance, using their authority for evil rather than for what God commands. When that happens, Christians are called to obey God rather than man and that can result in civil disobedience.

So where do we draw the line?

Christians should certainly stand with Peter and Andrew in insisting that our gospel preaching is inviolate. Today, there are Christians who violate the law of their countries just by believing what they believe, but more so when they talk about what they believe. Muslims who convert to Christianity face a death sentence in at least a half-dozen countries. In other countries, you can be a Christian so long as you keep it silent, but there are heavy penalties if you talk about it. Christians are under no spiritual obligation to obey the laws of those countries. Yes, they may be killed for their beliefs or activities. There is no shame to die in the service of the Savior.

There are some moral outrages that no men of conscience could accept. The order by Nazis to turn in Jews for transport to the death camps comes to mind. The ten Boom family were not the only Christians to resist that law with their very lives. Unknown to many Christians, however, is the fact that many pastors in Europe told their followers to stand down, to obey the authorities because, as commanded by Romans 13, Christians are to submit to the government authorities. I suspect God will have something to say to those pastors at either the White Throne Judgement (depart from Me, I never knew you) or the Bema Seat Judgment (when, I believe, Christians will be given just a brief glimpse of how God saw our sins before He forgave it) and they won’t like what God has to say.

How do I know that? Jesus said we were to follow the spirit of the law, not the letter of it. Romans 13 is a good excuse for ignoring tyranny and moral outrage as done by government agents. It doesn’t absolve Christians of our moral obligation to stand for what is right and against what is wrong.

Such horrible examples, however, do not really help us to know where the line is.

In 17th-century Japanese were required to show their disrespect for the faith by stepping on a tile bearing the image of Jesus (fumi-e) or face torture and death. A lot of Christians died for their refusal to dishonor God in this way. Today, in the modern West, speech codes with their supporting humiliations, fines and professional shunnings are the bludgeons of choice. Believers must not flinch from speaking the truth in love … no matter the cost.

What shall we say, then, of that gray area where we’re not murdered or muzzled but merely mugged?

I think we might need to examine our own walks before we contemplate that line.


One response to “Judging the Line

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  1. Reblogged this on aurorawatcherak and commented:

    Another one in that series and worthy of contemplation as we near an election that many of us see backed by ominous storm clouds.


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