Sermon Text: Romans 13:1-7
Pastor Daniel Schmidt
This past Tuesday, the Watertown Daily Times ran an article on the front page of the newspaper that began: “With Americans preparing to show their national pride this Fourth of July, the personal finance website WalletHubtoday released its report on 2019’s Most Patriotic States in America and Wisconsin placed sixth.”
Even though we are a very divided nation, on the 4thof July many Americans will set aside their difference and will sing together with pride the words taken from the Lee Greenwood song:
From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas, From sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston, and New York to L.A.
Well there’s pride in every American heart, and its time we stand and say:
That I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.
It is in Philippians chapter 3, the Apostle Paul reminds you and me that not only our we citizens of our country, “but our citizenship is in heaven.” Today, based on the second lesson from Romans chapter 13, you and I hear the encouragement to BE PROUD THAT YOU ARE A CITIZEN OF HEAVEN.
In the opening verse of chapter 13 in his letter to the Romans, Paul encourages all of us to show the proper respect to all those who are in authority over us. Paul writes: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Paul goes on to tell us why it is necessary to show the proper respect to those in authority: “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.”
God’s Word before us today reminds you and me, “The authorities that exist have been established by God.” While you and I may not agree with every decision that they make, we do need to remember that those who are in a position of authority over us, are in that position because God himself has placed them in that position. The Lord of the Nations has given to the leaders of our country the main responsibility of providing peace and protection to the people under their care. Those who continue to break the laws established by those in authority will continue to live in fear of being punished. However we, as Christians citizens of our country, will continually make the effort to do what is right; to obey the laws established by our leaders.
How do you and I, as Christians, as citizens of heaven, live out our lives as citizens of this world? We will show obedience not only toward the leaders of our government, but also to the leaders at work, in our classrooms, and in our individual homes. We live lives that are obedient to the laws established by those in authority over us, whether we happen to agree with them or not. For example, if one of your teacher’s rules is no talking in class unless called on, you will not talk to a fellow student sitting next to you while the teacher is talking. If your parents say that you are to be home at a certain time, you will make sure that you are home by that time. If our government says that you and I must pay taxes, then, as citizens of this country, we will remember the words of Paul: “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
There is an important point for you and me to remember today: as Christians, you and I are only strangers here on earth. In one of our hymns we sing:
I’m but a stranger here, Heaven is my home;
Earth is a desert drear, Heaven is my home;
Danger and sorrow stand, Round me on every hand;
Heav’n is my fatherland, Heaven is my home
While you and I live out our lives here on earth, obeying those in authority over us, we as Christians know that it is the Lord of the Nations who is ruling over everything. You and I know, and are comforted by the fact, that our stay here on this earth is only a temporary stop, as you and I wait to enjoy our eternal citizenship in heaven.
As we read through the New Testament, and especially the Gospels, you and I are reminded of the tremendous price our Savior Jesus Christ paid to win citizenship in heaven for you and me. Philippians, chapter two, summarizes all that our loving Savior did to make you and me citizens of heaven: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.”
When it comes to our relationship with our Savior-God, how do you and I live out our lives as citizens of our country, while at the same time remembering that we are citizens of heaven? First, we offer our thanks to our gracious Savior for winning the forgiveness of all of our sins, making you and me citizens of heaven. Next, you and I will gladly make use of all those opportunities we have to worship and praise our Savior-God along with our brothers and sisters in Christ. In response to the forgiving love that our God showers upon us day after day, you and I will gladly and willingly make the Word of our God the guide for our lives. Rather than doing things which the sinful, unbelieving world would tell us are all right, we will let the Word of our God guide us. Every day, you and I will act and speak in such a way that shows others that we are citizens, not only of this world, but also of heaven; proud citizens of heaven, who are eagerly awaiting the second coming of our Lord, and the reward of our eternal citizenship in heaven.
While many American Christians find it easy to show their pride in our country, not as many of them find it as easy to show that they are proud to be a citizen of heaven. May the Lord of the Nations give to all of us his Holy Spirit so that you and I boldly let other people know: “I AM A CHRISTIAN! THANKS TO MY SAVIOR, I AM NOT ONLY A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD BUT ALSO A PROUD CITIZEN OF HEAVEN!” Amen.