An election year is the perfect time to teach our children the Bible’s perspective on government, its leaders, and how we should respond to them. In this series, we will look at some topics which will help our children to balance serving God and serving their country.
Christians are citizens of two kingdoms. While we should love our earthly nation, our greater allegiance is to the kingdom of God. We need to prepare our children for how to navigate between the two, always seeing themselves as ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom to the world around them. And when the two kingdoms clash, we must teach them to choose God’s ways first, no matter how costly that decision is.
In Acts 4, the Jewish council reprimanded Peter and John for preaching Jesus. The leaders arrested them and commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus (v. 18). Peter and John responded respectfully, but firmly, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, judge for yourselves. For we cannot help but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (vs. 19, 20). Jesus had commanded the apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). They understood that His commands and His Kingdom superseded the commands of the earthly leaders they were subject to.
By Acts 5, things had grown more serious. The council beat all of the apostles and commanded them not to speak any more in the name of Jesus (v. 40). But the apostles “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they continued to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (vs. 41-42).
As our nation moves further away from a biblical mindset, we can expect the natural and spiritual kingdoms to be increasingly in open opposition to each other. Already, Christians are going to jail or being fined for nonnegotiable matters of faith. Truth is being shut down in the name of political correctness and “inclusion.” The time will no doubt come when it will be illegal to evangelize as well.
In America, when the freedoms guaranteed to us by our Constitution are trampled upon, we naturally tend to become indignant. But Jesus warned that this would happen: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. … If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you….” (John 15:18-20). He also said, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. … Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven — for so they persecuted the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
We should teach our children that persecution is to be expected, and that citizenship in God’s kingdom is a greater priority than obeying national laws which oppose Him.
Use wisdom in presenting these concepts. When talking with our children about the difficulties involved in living out their heavenly citizenship on earth, it is important to protect their young hearts from anxiety. Care should be taken in what we say and how we say it.
Balance the message of standing for what is right with the assurance that Jesus will always be with them (Matthew 28:20) and that His angels will protect them. Read to them the amazing stories of how God sent angels to free Peter, and Paul and Silas, from prison (Acts 12:1-17 and Acts 16:16-40). Read the stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 3 and 6). Always emphasize that God is our Protector and that He works miracles to take care of His own. We never want to create fear in our children. Instead, we instill in them the concept of being stalwart overcomers who are confident in their God.
Next time, we will talk about how being a citizen of God’s kingdom should lead us into being patriot-citizens of our nation.
Next: Part 2