Influence

render_to_caesarThe Daily Bible Reading study guide published by the American Bible Society is usually pretty solid in its material. In an issue a few years ago, Mary Evans was teaching through the book of Malachi. Ms. Evans says, “Life does not seem to have changed much since Malachi’s day!” We also delved into the prophet here in this medium with an eight part series from July 8, 2014 through July 15, 2014. We came to the same conclusion while walking through the last book of the Old Testament. Written close to 2500 years ago it mirrors our own situations quite accurately. Malachi has a lot to teach us and we have a lot to learn from Malachi.

There is one point of contention this writer has with Ms. Evans. She lists a number of things as examples of the church being influenced and misled by our culture as were God’s people back then. The last mentioned is – those in the church who agree with depriving the government of its revenue “thus depriving widows and orphans supported by the government.” Ahh, excuse me, but where in the Biblical view or teaching is the “government” responsible for widows and orphans? We just discovered an example of Ms. Evans being influenced and misled by our culture. Unfortunately, she is far from being alone.

Nowhere in the scriptures is the responsibility of caring for the widow and orphan, the poor and the vulnerable, directed to Caesar. We have looked at this issue here before and will again in the future. The Bible has over 5,000 verses concerning the needy and not one with instruction for government involvement. I am responsible as an individual. You are responsible as an individual. All people are in fact accountable as individuals before God to help those who cannot help themselves. (Matthew 25:31-46)

Those who see the world through secular glasses see human government as the best tool in which to accomplish these things (and perhaps to divert their responsibility elsewhere). However, this can only be done through confiscation of others wealth and goods and not freely given as God commands. Also, as we have seen, this creates a dependence upon Caesar which in turn empowers him to use such dependence to trade for votes and even greater power while continually limiting the freedom and liberty of the dependent.

A previous blog provides the proper view of government: {Even so, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1) For “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1b) Caesar is to be God’s minister. (v. 4) As God’s minister Caesar’s role is to restrain evil, punish wrong doers, and keep order in society. (Yes, that is all) In so doing, all men have the opportunity to express their God given talents and gifts to the benefit of themselves and others. In so doing, all men are free to live in liberty without oppression of thought, creativity, work and worship. Therefore, you and I are to make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and give thanks…for kings and all in authority, that (we) may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (I Timothy 2:1-2)}

This is but one of many examples of conflicting world views influencing our culture. But are we as individual Christians and as the Body of Christ being an influence on our world or is the world instead being an influence on us? That is a question that begs for an answer. Do we have one?

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