O u r C a lling 13 12 In regard to government, Jesus teaches: “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” We respect the authority of the state as appointed by God to protect the innocent and to restrain evil. We pay our taxes and obey the laws of the land, so long as these do not conflict with obedience to Christ. We acknowledge the state’s legitimate efforts to check murder, dishonesty, and immorality, and we pray for our government leaders to use their authority to promote peace and justice. Yet we can never give the state our allegiance, since “we must obey God rather than men.” As Christ teaches and history shows, the church must stay disentangled from the state to avoid being corrupted by it. The power of the state is ultimately the power of the sword, secured by violence. We, however, are called to the way of Christ, which overcomes evil with good. Even so, we are not indifferent to the work of govern- ment. At its best, the state represents a relative order of justice in the present sinful world; but the church, as God’s embassy, represents an absolute order of justice: the righteousness of the kingdom of God.* The church must witness to the state, serving as its conscience, helping it to distinguish good from evil, and reminding it not to overstep the bounds of its God-appointed authority. * Eberhard Arnold, God’s Revolution (talks and writings 1915–1935; published 1984). Mark 12:17 niv John 19:11; Dan 2:21 Rom 13:1–7 Titus 3:1–2 1 Pet 2:13–16 1 Tim 2:1–4 Acts 5:29; Dan 3:16–18 Mark 10:42–45 Rom 13:4; Rev 13 1 Sam 8 Rom 12:17–21; 13:8 1 Pet 2:17 John 17:15–19; 2 Cor 5:17–20 1 Kgs 18:1–19 Acts 4:18–20; 22:22–29 Matt 14:1–12