Tomorrow is the July 4th – the American holiday of national pride with hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and fireworks. Many Christians today in America celebrate this holiday – but what does the Word of God say about citizenship, national pride, and following the customs of the nations of this world?
Christians will often use the passage from Matthew 22:15-22 to justify their reasoning to pay taxes as a citizen of the nation they live in and for their national pride:
“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.” (Matthew 22:15-22)
The response of this passage is normally to say, “we are citizens of a nation and our loyalty is to God when we are responsible citizens to our country”.
However, this passage was not an instruction given to a believer (or a “citizen” of the Kingdom of God), but rather to a non-believer trying to get Jesus in trouble. Jesus told an Unbelieving Jew to give tribute to their conqueror. To pay tribute was not paying taxes, but dues that are extracted from a conquered country by their conquerors. This passage actually does not apply to Americans paying taxes to the nation they are a citizen of, let alone to a citizen of the Kingdom of God, which has not been conquered by any person or nation.
Now let us also look at another passage of Scripture that speaks concerning taxes:
“When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came up to Peter and asked, ‘Your teacher pays the temple tax, doesn’t he?” He answered, “Yes.”
When Peter went home, Jesus spoke to him first and asked him, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings on the earth collect tolls or tributes? From their own subjects, or from foreigners?”
“From foreigners,” he replied. So Jesus told him, “In that case, the subjects are exempt. However, so that we don’t offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook. Take the first fish that comes up, open its mouth, and you will find a coin. Take it and give it to them for me and you.” (Matthew 17:24-27)
As you can see this passage isn’t about giving taxes to the nation you’re living in (which, at the time, was the Roman government). It is about the Temple Tax. The Temple at that time was considered part of the Kingdom of God, so this is about whether or not Jesus and his disciples should pay the earthly Temple Tax, and Jesus said no. They are not supposed to pay the earthly Temple tax because Jesus and the believers are exempt from that tax.
1 Corinthians 3:16 – “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
Jesus rebuked Peter for saying they did pay the taxes for the earthly temple. (Note: the temple tax was not a secular or government tax, but a tax to the religious organization that governed the temple at the time; you cannot use that to say the current temple of God (community of believers) owes a secular government anything.) However, so that they would not offend the religious organization that demanded the taxes, and save face, Jesus had Peter catch a fish and get the tax amount from the fish’s mouth instead of their common purse. You see, they had money, but Jesus refused to allow their funds to go towards the Temple Tax, and instead summoned the tax, he did not need to pay, via a miracle (through the fish’s mouth). Also note: the fish is symbolic in this because it was how Peter and many of the disciples had previously earned their living. Those who live the way Jesus taught his disciples to live did not “work” the same way or for the same reasons they did before. As my man likes to say, “If you render unto God the things that are God’s, there won’t be anything left for Ceasar.”
It is true that we are to represent the Lord as good citizens – but as citizens of the Kingdom of God, not as citizens of the United Stares, Germany, Russia, China, or any other nation of this world. If we are representatives of his Kingdom, we are recognized as being citizens not of this world/earth. (Matthew 5:16)
By our good works (which are listed in Isaiah 58), we are recognized as being followers of Christ and citizens of a different nation…the Kingdom of God, and as such, we follow the laws, economy, lifestyle and culture of the Kingdom of God, which are vastly different from those of this world. It has absolutely nothing to do with being a good anything else; especially not being a good citizen of any nation of this world. Remember, there is no dual citizenship for the people of the Kingdom of God for God does not tolerate divided loyalties. (James 4:4)
No matter if you were born in the United States and are considered a “citizen” of this country, you must ask yourself on this day….who will I choose – America or the Kingdom of God? We cannot serve two nations simultaneously – that would be treason to either nation/kingdom – you can only serve one. When you join or support and praise someone for serving in the armed forces of the nation of America, aren’t you supporting treason against the Kingdom of God?
Does this make you upset, that I would be against serving any nation of this world in such a way? Consider Matthew 18:36:
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”
And now consider the Enlistment Oath for the United States:
“I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
If you are a servant (or citizen) of the Kingdom of God, then why are you fighting for a nation of this world? His kingdom is not of this world – and this includes the United States of America! This is not his kingdom…stop fighting for it…it is treason against the King of Kings, the Lord God! And also, when you recite the Pledge of Allegiance to America, aren’t you putting the nation of America ahead of the Kingdom of God? The Pledge of Allegiance and Enlistment Oath may have “God” in it, but which god is this country serving? The Lord God or Mammon (Money)? Are not American customs, lifestyle, economics, and objectives centered around money – so then is it not Mammon the god of America? Why choose to follow, support, and serve the god of America, Mammon, when the Lord specifically said in His Word not to?! (Matthew 6:24) And so, when you schedule and revolve around the schedule, principles, and objectives of the nation of America, aren’t you putting the nation of America ahead of the Kingdom of God?
Do not be fooled!
If you are a Christian or follower of Christ, then your priority is to serve the Kingdom of God, following the customs and lifestyle, kingdom economics, and objectives that the Lord has set for all the citizens of his kingdom. If you are a Christian or follower of Christ, then stop following serving and fighting for the nation/kingdom of this world and following and supporting its customs and lifestyle, principles of economics (serving mammon/money), and objectives. Choose now – your American pride or the Kingdom of God – for you cannot serve two masters, either you will hate the one, and love the other; or you will hold to the one, and despise the other. (Matthew 6:24)