Jason Bourne is my kind of hero. He is a man with an awful past, a trained assassin who has lost his memory. I like him because he is like a maniacal energizer bunny, he just keeps on killing and killing. He can kill a man with a bic pen, he can kill a man just by singing “Makes me feel like a woman”. In the Bourne movies, he is after the men who made him what he is, and they are out to kill him. It is but another movie showing how corrupt our government is, and it’s subtle message is to trust no one!
Ronald Reagan said the most terrifying words in the English language “I’m from the Government & I’m here to help you”. Indeed many in America regard the Federal Government, in fact any government, with scorn and contempt. I confess that my attitude has been wrong on several occasions. But God has issued the Scourne Ultimatum to Christians. (I made the spelling like Bourne)
The Scourne Ultimatum applies to Being Blessed. If you want to have God’s Blessing in your life You must not sit with those who scorn God’s Ways. If we as a Church want God’s blessings on our efforts to grow and reach out and serve, we must not be Scorning God’s Ways nor God’s Government.
Part of the Scourne Ultimatum is that not only do you miss out on God’s Blessing and Power, but you also lose God’s ability to keep you from temptation. Those that scorn authorities reserve special judgment for themselves:
Well, you say, God isn’t governing Belton (or your city, your country…)! Oh, Yes He Is!
God is even governing Cass County. He is governing Peculiar, Cleveland, Raymore. God has ordained our civil government, our civil authority.
God’s Directive for Christians is found in Romans 13: 3-7
Our civil authorities are the ministers of God. The word used is διάκονός. The same word we get ‘deacon’ from. Civil Authorities are God’s deacons. We are to give honor and respect to ALL Civil authorities, not just some of them. They are all deacons of God!
The impeachment trial for the Governor Blagojevich of Illinois is over. He is out of office. While still Governor he appointed a replacement for now President Barack Obama. The Congress at first said they would never approve the person he appointed. They changed their mind and approved now Senator Burris. Why? You can speculate about why, but they did the honorable thing. They honored the office of Governor that Mr Blagojevich held. He may be a dishonorable person, he was even impeached, but while he was in office, the citizens of Illinois, the United States Senate honored the office that he represented.
Civil Authorities are ordained by God. They are His servants, His deacons. If you give your heart to God and allow His truth to guide your life, then every time you see a policeman, firefighter, councilman, mayor, state legislator, governor, judge, congressman, senator, or any other person in a branch of government, you should find respect and honor welling up in your heart. This is the fear of the Lord residing in your heart. That fear leads you to honor God and those authorities He has ordained. The way most of us encounter civil authority is by those flashing lights in our rear view mirror.
Now I have had not so kind encounters with policemen. And I am sure you have too. They have a tough job. You cannot watch TV without seeing and hearing people dishonor policemen, and government officials.
Why should churches and Christians have a good reputation with the city?
1. Honor for Civil Authority is God Directed
We bring offense to the Gospel by not having a good reputation. The early church in Jerusalem:
When we fail to pro-actively honor our civil authorities, we hinder the advancement of the gospel. Our civil authorities are the gatekeepers of our community. If we want those doors open wide to our efforts to preach the Gospel, we must honor the gatekeepers. We must ask ourselves if the Gospel of Christ is aided by protests and controversy. Certainly the actions of Rev. Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church harm the cause of Christ. They consider themselves to be Biblical, but they frame their action in hatred instead of the Grace of God. God says to honor our authorities so that we may live peaceably with all men.
Do we compromise the Gospel to honor and reach civil authorities? Definitely Not!
- John the Baptist was beheaded because he warned Herod of the lawlessness of sleeping with his brother’s wife.
- The Apostles, Peter and John, respectfully decline to refrain from preaching Jesus Christ, becasue they decided it was more important to obey God rather than man.
Our attitude of Honor is so important in showing our authorities to fear God.
Pastor Ken Wilde is the Senior Pastor of Capital Christian Center in Boise, Idaho. 22 Weeks out of the year he spends in Washington DC praying for the leaders of our Country. Ken founded the National Prayer Center is an inter-denominational, non-profit organization dedicated to activating, mobilizing and inspiring Christians across America to become involved in the Biblical mandate to pray for our leaders and for national revival in order to heal our land., with over 2000 attendees. The Center is open to members of Congress and their staffs for times of prayer, devotion and spiritual encouragement.
Ken Wilde tells of meeting with a Congressman for the first time. He brought 15 intercessors from a local church along with their pastor. When they were allowed into his office, Ken could tell by the congressman’s body language that he wasn’t sure what they wanted.
He asked what he could do for them. Ken proceeded to tell him they did not want anything, but were only there to thank him for his service to his country and to pray for him.
He said this is a real gift for me. Every day it is an endless stream of people and groups coming in to his office to request money for this or that special interest. He pictures a digital readout on the wall that totals all the money requests each day. “But you have come to give me something today. That has never happened before.
The group prayed for the Congressman, and when they had finished, he asked them if they would pray for his staff as well. When they had finished, he looked at his watch and said, I just had an appointment cancellation, would you like to go over to the Capitol and have a look around? (A Congressman never does this-only interns and staffers.) He led them on a quick ½ hour tour of the Capitol.
Two weeks later Ken received a call from the local Pastor. He was quite frantic. The Congressman had called and told him he was going to come and visit his church with his wife.
Are we to bring the truth to our leaders?
We must speak the truth, but speak it in love. Sometimes God will raise up servants to speak strong words to a civil leader.
- Nathan to David
- John the Baptist to Herod
What good does it do when we backbite against our leaders, when we disrespect and dishonor them. What we say in private God will shout from the rooftops on the day of judgment. Speak the truth in your hearts and you will have a heart burning with honor before our leaders. Otherwise your dishonor will poison your spirit and will be manifested before our leaders.
2. Honor for Civil Authority Restores the Fear of God.
Peter illustrates the value of the “Scourne Ultimatum”:
Peter says “how can you fear God whom you cannot see, when your don’t honor the leader he has placed his authority upon that you do see?
In America we say: “You will have to earn my respect” The fear of God says: “I see the authority that God has placed upon you, therefore you already have my respect”. We are not to sit in the seat of the scornful, but we are to walk in the fear of the Lord.
Honoring our civil authorities opens up our community to the Power and Authority of God!
God uses the church to display to the hidden authorities of this world His manifild wisdom. In the unseen realm of God’s Kingdom, when the church honor’s God’s Civil authorities, it allows God to display His awesome Power. In so doing, the world, the governors know the Fear of the Lord! If we do not fear our authorities, we demonstrate no fear of the Lord, and our authorities will never fear the Lord. The church, Christians, are to be living testimonies of the Power of God!
Herod Agrippa came into power in 37AD.He helped the Emperor Claudius gain the throne after Caligula was murdered. As a reward he was given Judea nd Samaria. Now his kingdom was as large as his grandfather Herod the Great. Herod Agrippa (I) was the one who persecuted the early church. He killed James. He imprisoned Peter tot kill him. This is the King that Peter wrote we are to honor! The Christians continued to honor Agrippa, even though they feared him and endured horrible persecutions for their faith in Christ. In so doing, the Jews and Herod experienced first hand the “Fear of God”!
God had his way with Herod! The people feared God!
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego honored the King but honored God first. In so doing the King saw the power of God, He feared the Power of God, and S,M, & A were promoted in the land. God’s influence was allowed to spread. The whole Country Feared God!
We see a modern day application of this principle in Nigeria:
Today the Harvest is truly Plentiful in Nigeria. God’s Power is truly evident:
3. Honor for Civil Authority is God Rewarding
John Bevere in “Honor’s Reward” tells of a church in the Midwest that he used to preach at in the late 80’s. One particular church was about 150 and seemed very stagnant. He preached there three or four years in a row. He stopped going, but decided to go a few years later to a conference they were putting on. The letter of invitation indicated there would be over 800. He was curious, and decided to accept the invitation to speak. When he stepped into their new auditorium it was packed with 8-900 people. He said the presence of God was stronger than he had ever experienced before.
After the meeting, he was alone with the Pastor and asked “What Happened” You were stagnant for years. How did the church grow so quickly? I’ve only been gone three years.
“John, I got so tired about my people complaining about paying their taxes and how wrong our civil leaders were, I had to do something about it. So I took it to prayer and God gave me an idea.” He went to city officials and asked about their greatest need. They shared with him that the fire department needed special equipment to enable the fire fighters to see through smoke.
Most fire related deaths are due to smoke inhalation, rather than burning. The smoke is so thick that they cannot see someone even a few feet in front of them. Thermal Imaging Cameras (TICs) use infrared technology to help firefighters and rescue workers “see” through smoke, darkness, fog, dense vegetation, fire and walls to find people and fire sources. A common use for TICs is to quickly and easily locate a fire’s origin without causing unnecessary damage. Thermal Imaging Cameras (TICs) were new at that time and quite expensive. It was going to cost the city $25,000 and they did not have the budget for it.
The pastor preached the next Sunday from Romans 13. In love he corrected his congregation for complaining against city officials. He told the people they were God’s servants and that believers could not be blessed by dishonoring civil leaders and cutting corners on their taxes. Once the scriptural foundation was laid, he told of the cities need for the Thermal Imaging Device, and announced a special offering would be taken. It was a good way to honor those whom God had appointed.
The church responded by repenting of their attitude and giving a 25,000 dollar offering. The pastor called the mayor and asked if he could assemble some of the city leaders so the church could honor them with this check to buy the equipment. When the church people got to the meeting, they were surprised to see how many city officials and workers were present to receive this honor.
At the presentation, the pastor read from Romans 13 and shared how his church appreciated the city officials and workers, and they viewed them as ministers of God. He thanked them all. The city officials and firefighters were overwhelmed by the honor and generosity of the church. (We convey honor by money)
A year later the pastor held a new building dedication. Scores of city workers and officials attended. Many were saved and made the decision to attend the church. “That is what blew open the community to us.”
Many evangelical Christians criticized Rick Warren for catering to Obama and McCain when he had them to his church for his one on one interview. But Pastor Warren was only doing what Scriptures tell him to do, honor our leaders, pray for the President. And because he honored the men running for President, when the time came to invoke God’s blessing on our new President, Pastor Rick Warren received the honor. God unlocked the doors of our nation to a man who saw the value of honoring our civil leaders. Now some criticized his prayer, saying it wasn’t bold enough or whatever, but his prayer was before God almighty and was both honoring to our Creator and our new President. That was not the occasion to get on a soapbox and try to put the fear of God into our country.
But listen to how he closed the prayer:
He used the opportunity to honor the one who gave him life, Jesus Christ.
If we dishonor our civil leaders, if we address them like we are better than they, if we try to set them straight so to speak, we are dishonoring God, we are failing to fear God, and we close the door on any opportunity to further honor Jesus Christ.
Look at the life of Billy Graham:
Billy Graham never took his eyes from the one who called him to preach, Jesus Christ. He was given the marvelous opportunity to witness for Jesus Christ at the highest levels of government. Former President George Bush said he owes his conversion to Jesus Christ to Billy Graham.
Are You Afraid of God? Are you afraid that one day you will have to face almighty God, Holy God, Righteous God? Are you not sure how you will fare in that meeting? When you revere God to the point of seeing your need for Jesus Christ, you will no longer need to be afraid of God.
Concluding thought: When the disciples returned from their special mission to evangelize, they couldn’t wait to tell Jesus about the amazing power they experienced:
“Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20 (NLT)
Jesus said it was no big deal to have authority over demons. Likewise, we can say that it is no big deal to be a civil authority, even the President of the United States! After all, Jesus saw Satan being thrown out of heaven like lightning. He is no big deal! What is a BIG DEAL is to have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! When we honor our civil authorities it works to bring the Fear of God into our society. And wherever the Fear of the Lord is, there the Salvation of the Lord is. People will have their names written in the Book of Life! For that WE REJOICE!