“We must obey God rather than men.” —Acts 5:29
Overwhelmingly, Christians are to obey the government. God has created government—even the pagan Roman Empire of the First Century—to keep order in society (see Romans 13). Even atheist regimes like Red China are used by God to punish stealing, murder, etc., and to hold society together. So be thankful for government which God uses to protect us, and if the sign says “55 miles an hour”, obey.
But there are exceptions. In Acts 5 the authorities were telling the Apostles to be quiet about the Gospel, and Peter refused. This is a time to say “No” to government and “Yes” to suffering for the Gospel.
America has been “Christian friendly” for over 200 years, but that is changing. When the headlines read “Little Sisters of the Poor sue the administration”, referring to the government forcing Catholics to become complicit in birth control payments, things have changed.
This past summer the Minnesota legislature passed homosexual marriage. An attempt was made to protect religious freedom by exempting Christian photographers, florists and caterers who cannot in full conscience provide services to such “weddings”. But the legislature would allow no exceptions. This will be an interesting year to see how Christians live out their faith in Minnesota (and in other same-sex marriage states) and whether we see people suffer for Christ—or compromise.
Scary as it may be to be persecuted, let us remember the great promise of Matthew 5:12 that there will be eternal reward for those who suffer for Christ. We may not like persecution, but as one Chinese pastor who has been in jail many times said “Persecution is good for the church.”
Am I willing to lose my job for the sake of Christ?
How often do I pray for the government? For persecuted Christians around the world?
In what way may the Lord be asking me to suffer for Him today?