Here is the fourth installment of a series on Romans 13:1-7. Romans 13:1-7 requires us to take our obligations to the government seriously. The Apostle Paul wrote about the ancient Roman Empire. How does what he wrote apply to us as citizens of the United States?
- PART 1 introduced the topic.
- PART 2 examined this question: How do we know when those who claim authority over us as our governmental leaders have been appointed by God?
- PART 3 asked: What is the difference between the obedience we owe to the governing authorities and the obedience we owe to God?
Here we will consider the following question:
How high a priority should a Christian give his role as a citizen of a constitutional republic?
Most of Romans 13:1-7 is about obeying those in authority. Because the Roman Empire was a brutal, authoritarian state, both Jews and Christians had little love for it. At best, there is only a vague hint of that thing we call patriotism.
Our own country, by contrast, is a republic. To make a republic work requires more than just obedience. Patriotism is needed.
Definition of patriotism: love for or devotion to one’s country
Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities
Citizenship is the common thread that connects all Americans. We are a nation bound not by race or religion, but by the shared values of freedom, liberty, and equality.
Throughout our history, the United States has welcomed newcomers from all over the world. The contributions of immigrants have helped shape and define the country we know today. More than 200 years after our founding, naturalized citizens are still an important part of our democracy. By becoming a U.S. citizen, you too will have a voice in how our nation is governed.
The decision to apply is a significant one. Citizenship offers many benefits and equally important responsibilities. By applying, you are demonstrating your commitment to this country and our form of government.
Below you will find several rights and responsibilities that all citizens should exercise and respect. Some of these responsibilities are legally required of every citizen, but all are important to ensuring that America remains a free and prosperous nation.
- Freedom to express yourself.
- Freedom to worship as you wish.
- Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
- Right to vote in elections for public officials.
- Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
- Right to run for elected office.
- Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
- Support and defend the Constitution.
- Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
- Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
- Participate in your local community.
- Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
- Serve on a jury when called upon.
- Defend the country if the need should arise.
With rights come responsibilities. When the people of a nation stop fulfilling their responsibilities, they lose their rights.
Why does our republic exist? Why are so many Americans patriotic? Consider the passage that follows Romans 13:1-7.
Romans 13:8-10 New King James Version (NKJV)
Love Your Neighbor
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” [a]“You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Our country is the home of our family, friends, and neighbors. So long as enough Americans love their neighbors and do their best to care for our country, we will continue to have a republic. Otherwise, we shall disintegrate into a mob led by demagogues. Is that something we want to happen to people we love? Of course not!