The Modern Good Samaritan

modern_good_samaritan

A Christian’s Attitude at Tax Time

What would you call it if a person walked up, pointed a gun at you, and demanded your money?

Robbery.

What if three guys did it? Would it be something else?

Of course not, it’s still robbery.

Okay, but suppose you live in a town of 100 people and 75 of them got together and agreed to send three guys to your house with guns to take your possessions. What’s that?

Robbery. C’mon!

Well, how many of them would have to get involved before taking your stuff was justified? 80? 90? 99? What?

That’s silly. It doesn’t matter how many people agree to steal my stuff — it’s still robbery.

What if they gave you a vote?

Doesn’t matter.

But suppose they came and took your possessions and, after pawning it off, took the proceeds and fed some hungry people in the neighborhood. Would that justify their actions?

Of course not, robbery is robbery regardless of what you do with the stolen property.

All of those scenarios were robbery — and easily understood as wrong — yet we blindly accept this kind of robbery in America every day. Many of us enthusiastically support it.

We just call it taxes.

The federal government of the United States — the worst offender — confiscates huge portions of our money every year and gives it away based upon their discretion. And, should we refuse to pay, the “authorities” would eventually show up at our door to take our money or our freedom by force. We are robbed, quite literally, at the point of a gun.

Now, I know what many of you are probably thinking… the Bible tells us to always submit to the government. No. I contend the Bible tells us to render to people what is legitimately theirs and to submit to legitimate authorities. You see, everything that Caesar claims is his is not his. And, when you boil it all down to the basics, most taxation is, in fact, the same thing as theft. A majority vote does not justify it.

So, why draw this comparison at all? Because it’s tax time in America and many of us have become conditioned to think it is our “patriotic duty” to fork over our hard-earned money to the ones holding a gun on us.

It’s really no different than a mob boss sending thugs around the neighborhood collection protection money. The mob boss wants you to pay for services you neither asked for nor needed. And, he is prepared to use force and intimidation to make you “accept” his services.

The federal government is just like this. The Internal Revenue Service is a master at intimidation and is dispatched every year at this time to collect money from us for services we neither asked for nor need. In fact, most of us have voiced our objection to these “services” over and over again — the propagandized “Affordable Care Act” being the most recent and egregious example.

But, this sort of extortion is nothing new. It might be comforting to know that people throughout history have had to deal with this sort of thing.

Augustine of Hippo, a Christian theologian and apologist who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries, commented on this very thing in his book, the City of God

“Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a vast scale? What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms? A gang is a group of men under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention. If this villainy wins so many recruits from the ranks of the demoralized that it requires territory, establishes a base, captures cities and subdues peoples, it then openly arrogates to itself the title of ‘kingdom,’ which is conferred on it in the eyes of the world, not by the renouncing of aggression but by the attainment of impunity. For it was a witty and a truthful rejoinder, which was given by a captured pirate to Alexander the Great. The king asked the fellow, ‘What is your idea, in infesting the sea?’ And the pirate answered, with uninhibited insolence, ‘The same as yours, in infesting the earth! But because I do it with a tiny craft, I’m called a pirate; because you have a mighty navy, you’re called an emperor.’”

So, why even bring any of this up? Because, as Christians we need to understand that wicked men will always try to plunder what they can, whether they wear the title, “emperor” or “pirate,” “mob boss” or “president.” From time-to-time all of them step beyond their legitimate authority and engage in criminal behavior. And when they do we need to stop pretending that one is any better than the other. None of them are worthy of our devotion and loyalty.

PiratePistolBut, there is one who is. One who harbors no ulterior motive and no hidden agenda. One who is righteous, holy, and worthy of our loyalty. One whose kingdom is enduring and eternal.

Only One.

And it is to His Kingdom we need to turn our attention.

So, where does this leave us on the question of the proper attitude toward taxes? Should we pay them or not? Should we only obey governments that are legitimate? Should we always resist governments that are illegitimate? What do we do?

It depends on what will bring glory and honor to our King.

Sometimes it honors God to defy the illegitimate laws of men, just as the apostles did when they refused to obey the order of the Sanhedrin to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Sometimes it honors God to comply with an illegitimate law — and Scripture provides the perfect example…

“So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the man!’ When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, ‘Crucify him crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.’ When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, ‘You will not speak to me? Do you now know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.'” — John 19:5-11

If ever there was a situation where a government had zero authority over someone it is when Jesus stood before Pilate. Christ is the supreme lawgiver — holy and righteous. He is the rightful judge of all those who judged him and yet he allowed himself to be placed under their power — subjecting himself to sinners. Why?

Obedience.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” — Philippians 2:5-8

Those men had no right to judge Christ, but Christ was not concerned with his own rights. He was not concerned with the injustice of his situation. He was concerned only with the glory of his Father in heaven.

John recorded an instance where Jesus taught his disciples about his purpose.

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” — John 14:30-31

Note that Jesus points out the “ruler of this world” has no claim on him yet he is going to do as the Father has commanded so that “the world may know” that he loves the Father.

Jesus was sent to this earth for a purpose. Not to defend his own rights against an unjust empire, but to accomplish the will of his Father. Likewise, we are saved for a purpose. Not to defend our own rights against a wicked and sinful generation, but to accomplish the will of our Father. Illegitimate governments and the wicked men who run them have no claim on us — but we do as the Father has commanded.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” — Ephesians 2:10

We need to remember that God’s will for us is that we always bring glory to Him. And that should be our guiding principle in life.

crownIn fact, we should rarely, if ever, concern ourselves with the legitimacy of earthly laws. If they are legitimate then they will be completely consistent with God’s higher law and our obedience to them will stem from our obedience to God. If they are illegitimate we may or may not be obedient to them — depending on what will glorify our Father in heaven.

 

Death and Taxes (a repost)

Note: This post originally appeared on April 11, 2006

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the famous proverb, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

How appropriate for us to ponder his wisdom on these two matters at this time of the year. For it is this time of the year, in particular, where we are forced to deal with one of these issues and have an opportunity to deal with the other.

Thid-BenFranklinApril 15 is “tax day” in the United States. We are reminded, in no uncertain terms, of the certainty of taxes. Our federal government confiscates huge portions of our income, quite literally at the point of a gun, at rates that far exceed the rates that prompted our forefathers to revolt. What’s worse, the vast majority of the programs for which our money is taken Congress has no constitutional authority to enact.

“Oh but please understand,” they tell us, “We are only doing this for your own good. We want to take care of you from cradle to grave.”

Once again (and I can’t emphasize this enough), Congress has no constitutional authority to do most of what it does. Our country was founded on liberty, not on “being taken care of.” Benjamin Franklin, himself, repudiated this sort of thinking when he said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

But this hasn’t stopped our federal government from setting itself up as our savior for years. They want us to become more and more dependant on them because when our dependency on them increases so, too, does their power over us.

And yet, isn’t it interesting that in the phrase, “from cradle to grave,” the government admits it cannot save us from the other certainty Franklin mentioned? Death.

Franklin was right, death is certain. The Bible is clear on this:

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” – Hebrews 9:27

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

And of course, centuries of human history testify to the certainty of death. And yet, an actual Savior has exhibited power over this most certain of events.

“Now upon the first [day] of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain [others] with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down [their] faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” – Luke 24:1-7

Our hope should rest not in a bloated government of bureaucrats who seek only to increase the amount of power they wield over us, but in the Lord Jesus Christ, who demonstrated, not only His love for us by dying in our stead, but also His ability to deliver on his promise by displaying His power over death.

This time of year reminds us we have to pay our taxes but, praise God, it also reminds us that the victory over death has been won because…

He Is Risen!

Seizing the opportunity

One of the provisions of the ridiculously misnamed “Affordable Care Act” (commonly known as “Obamacare”) forces employers to pay for the abortion services of employees. The owner of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby is a professing Christian and has a serious moral and religious aversion to abortion. Yet, the federal government of the United States is trying to force him and his company to finance it. This is exactly what I was talking about in September when I characterized this sort of situation as a “Golden Opportunity.”

ThidBugleHobby Lobby’s leaders have seized the opportunity and are standing up against a government that has overstepped its authority. They are refusing to pay for something they regard as morally reprehensible and, more importantly, openly sinful. Their actions could potently cost them more than $1 million a day in fines. And yet they stand firm. I commend them.

May the Lord be glorified in their courageous stand.

Which kingdom are you focused on?

The decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is not surprising. That law grants the United States Government huge new powers to exercise over citizens. Look to history and you will find that those in power rarely, if ever, give up their power willingly. So the decision by the U.S. government to retain power for itself should not be a shocker.

Look to Scripture and you will find that God does not long tolerate idols…

Wait! What’s that got to do with anything, you ask?

America is the number one idol of Americans — even those who profess to be Christians. America is where they place their devotion and pledge their allegiance. It is the entity from which they expect their blessings. America is where they find their identity. They are even willing to offer up their sons and daughters as sacrifices in whatever war the government deems worthy of our sacrifice.

You may say this is “patriotism” not “worship.” Call it what you will, but this is exactly how ancient people related to Molech, Ba’al, and Dagon. It is idolatry.

Ultimately God destroys idols so that we may know that He is the Lord. Thursday’s Supreme Court decision was a massive power grab on the part of the U.S. government and, I believe, one more aspect of God’s judgment of this idol.

Today there are people who feel betrayed by their country — their country didn’t just disappoint them yesterday, it turned on them. God is revealing the idol for what it truly is.

Furthermore, the financial burden of Obamacare will only serve to hasten the economic collapse of an empire that has failed to learn the lessons of every other crumbled empire in history and, like them, insists on spending itself into oblivion. God is knocking this idol to its knees.

So, my question today is addressed specifically to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ: Are you okay with all of this?

I hope so, because God’s Kingdom suffered not even the slightest ding from yesterday’s events. It is wholly in tact. And, if you find yourself reeling from the events of yesterday I hope you will turn whole-heartedly to God’s Kingdom. Rest on the rock that no earthly court can shake.

Maybe this will help.

Thideology news of the day

THE EVER-EXPANDING REACH OF GOVERNMENT…

Item 1: The federal government says individuals have no “fundamental right” to choose what kind of food they will eat.

Item 2: The federal government wants to know more about you — especially how you spend your money.

Item 3: The federal fat police are coming: Proposed bill would require government to track the body mass of American children. Which is probably one of the ways they will justify their intentions to control what we eat (see item 1).

…AND WHAT CHRISTIANS CAN DO ABOUT IT.

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should continue to trust and praise God in the midst of our shrinking liberties in the same way Job continued to praise God in the midst of his suffering. Never, ever forget, brethren, that the federal government of the United States, while ignoring the limitations placed on it by the Constitution, will never be able to exercise power beyond the limitations placed on it by God. God is sovereign — government is not. No government will ever exercise tyranny over a people beyond what God allows. It is important to remember, of course, that God may very well allow total tyranny to come to America. He allowed Babylon to conquer Judah and carry the Israelites into captivity. He allowed the Israelites to exist in slavery in Egypt. He allowed the early Church to suffer extreme persecution in Rome. Even today, there are Christians all around the world who suffer at the hands of sinful men in places of power. And all of this He allows for His own glory. Is the Church in America any different?

SIDE NOTE: A new Gallup poll indicates that the vast majority of Obama’s supporters are people who don’t attend church — now why would that be? I have a 2-part theory:

  1. Obama has a messiah complex.
  2. People who attend Church recognize that there is a God, and Obama ain’t it.

I just found it interesting.

Science catching up to Scripture

A new study reveals that babies as young as 6 months old have the ability to discern right from wrong. Of course, Scripture has declared this to be the case for centuries…

“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts…” — Romans 2:14-15a

God has written on the hearts of men a sense of right and wrong. It’s what we typically call a conscience. Of course, this does not mean we have the ability to DO right and avoid wrong. Put those same children who KNOW right from wrong in a room with limited toys and there will be conflict. Even though they know it’s wrong to take something that belongs to another, they are still slaves to their own sinful nature and they will take the toy simply because they want it.

Remember, Paul’s letter to the Romans that declares we know right from wrong also declares…

“For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” — Romans 3:9-12

It’s good that medical science is finally catching up with Scripture. Now if we could only get them to understand man’s inability to do good, we could make real progress with people misplacing their trust in government (run by men) and thereby avoid things like these:

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