Read Matthew 22:15-22
15-17 Then the Pharisees went off and discussed how they could trap him in argument. Eventually they sent their disciples with some of the Herod-party to say this, “Master, we know that you are an honest man who teaches the way of God faithfully and that you don’t care for human approval. Now tell us—‘is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not’?”
18-20 But Jesus knowing their evil intention said, “Why try this trick on me, you frauds? Show me the money you pay the tax with.” They handed him a coin, and he said to them, “Whose face is this and whose name is in the inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they said. “Then give to Caesar,” he replied, “what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God!”
22 This reply staggered them and they went away and let him alone. (JBP)
Christians are required to be good citizens. Civil authority is to be respected. Civil disobedience is reserved for the most serious and hopefully rare situations. For better or worse we live in a world of nations and states. Anarchy is not an option.
But as Jesus reminds us, the nation or state is not the only object of our allegiance. By all means, respect authority, but also recognise there is an authority higher than the country to which we belong. The follower of Jesus is to be neither an unthinking instrument of the state nor an unthinking rebel against the state.
Thumbing our nose at the state is childish. Then again, seeing the state as being somehow equal in authority to God is sadly mistaken. Many church people blindly followed Hitler in Germany because they confused love of God and love of country and respect for authority.
Let’s not get caught up in jingoistic ideology which sees any country as essentially ‘Christian’. Only individuals can be Christians and no nation, irrespective of its foundations, accurately reflects the character of God. We may love our country but not in the same way we love God. Love of country is part of our love for God, not a competitor to it.
We are disciples first, and patriots second.