When Does the Government Cross the Line?

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” Matthew 17:24-27

Jesus knew when it was fine to “rebel” against the civic and religious leaders and when it was more acceptable to “play the game” by not causing offense.

Out of all the miracles Jesus performed, this has to be the most unique and one that 21st century Christians would not try to replicate.

Again, we find that Jesus was teaching them a valuable lesson about civic duty. There were times to fight against the system and times to go along to get along. This was clearly the latter for His time had not yet come to suffer and die.

We also find the times we live in to be unique regarding civic responsibility. State and local governments have issued recommendations and guidelines for their municipalities as they have seen fit. Many of the guidelines are arbitrary and based on old data. Even the requirement of face coverings to be worn in stores is arbitrary and inconsistent.

As I write this, three churches in California are coming under fire for their stance against the draconian measures the Government has placed on them due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Pastor John MacArthur from Grace Community Church laid out the Government’s requirements for opening up the church again. He gave these as he stood in the pulpit readying to preach and thereby rebelling against the new and arbitrary Government mandates.

1. No indoor meetings at all.
2. Preregistration of every person.
3. People only allowed on church property for scheduled events.
4. Every person that comes on the property is to be screened and have their temperature taken at the entry.
5. Six feet of social distance at all times and everywhere, including the parking lot and the restrooms.
6. Every other parking space must be left vacant.
7. Marked pathways to maintain social distance, monitored by staff monitors.
8. Everyone always wearing a mask.
9. Restroom monitors to control six feet social distancing.
10. Tape on the ground marking distance.
11. Signs indicating these mandates.
12. Restrooms are to be used during the service to minimize the rush.
13. No hymn books, no communion, no offering containers.
14. No pew Bibles.
15. No singing, no hugging, no shaking hands.
16. Disposable seat covers changed between services.
17. The services have to shortened.

#2, 13, and 14 should terrify all of us.

The Grace Community Church is appealing the mandate and filing suit against the State of California. Unfortunately, this has not received as much press as the mandate deserves.

Pastor MacArthur drew his line in the sand and has found his hill to die on (to mix two metaphors). He is taking quite a bit of heat for his stance.

Where’s your line?

Where is your church’s line?

At what point do Believers say, “enough?”

Or should the Church obey every recommendation and guidance no matter how obscure or arbitrary?

Everyone has a line.

For some it has already been crossed.

Where’s yours?

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