A number of years ago, following a Christmas Eve service at a church I was serving, a person who was visiting the church heard me greeting people with the phrase, “Merry Christmas!” This person loudly exclaimed, “You can’t say that — separation of church and state!” Several people around smiled as I said, “look where you are … in a church!”
Government has the right to tell God what He can and cannot do?
In our society, we think our government has the right to tell God what He can and cannot do. We think our government has the right to tell God’s people what they can and cannot do, what preachers of the Gospel can and cannot say. Do we fear the government more than we fear God?
The Bible has a number of stories where government leaders tried to overcome God and his people: Pharaoh against Moses; Saul against David; Haman against Esther and the Jews; Nebuchadnezzar against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago.
But one story stands out as particularly nefarious and reprehensible.
It is the story of King Herod, as recorded in Matthew 2. King Herod in Jerusalem heard the story of the birth of God’s Messiah, for whom the Jews had waited for about two millennia. Now he heard that the Messiah was born from the magi, the wise men. The priests and scribes knew from the Scriptures that Bethlehem was the divine birth place. King Herod used his military troops to carry out a grisly plan of infanticide in an effort to keep God’s Messiah from emerging. But God saved Jesus so that Jesus could save us.
God is more powerful than any political body, any military force, or any social influence. John the Apostle wrote, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 – NASB) Jesus Christ of Nazareth came into the world against all odds and achieved the purpose for which he came: to save people from their sins.
The question I ask you is: will you try to stop God from working in your life? Faith in Jesus is the conduit through which God pours His saving, victorious grace. Do you want to live victoriously in this life and the next? Believe in Jesus and dedicate yourself to living with Him and not against Him. Fear not, God is with you!
Pastor Tim Vanden Langenberg is the pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church.