BEING A GOOD CITIZEN
Scripture: Matthew 22:15–22; Romans 13:1–7; ! Peter 2:13–17
Memory verse: Romans 13:7
”Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour."
Use the following object lesson to show the reason we have rules and laws – for protection. You will need a plate, matches, a short candle, water, a coin, and a glass (tall enough to avoid touching the flame when it is inverted and placed over the candle). Drip some wax onto the centre of the plate and stand the short candle upright in it.
Discuss some rules God has given us. List the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3–17 NIV). Note that “You shall not murder” protects us physically. “You shall not give false testimony” protects us emotionally, and “You shall have no other gods before me” protects us spiritually.
Put the coin toward the edge of the plate. Pour some water into the saucer to cover the coin. Explain that the coin represents a person and the water represents the dangers around us. Light the candle and place the glass over it. The water will be drawn up into the glass and the coin will be out of the water. Explain that the glass represents rules. Rules protect us from danger like the glass protects the coin from the water.
God’s rules protect us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. God has also allowed leaders to make rules for our protection.
Discuss some of these rules and how they are for our physical, emotional, or spiritual protection. Let the students name rules as you list them on the chalkboard. After discussion, explain that this week they will learn how obedience to God’s rules and the rules of our leaders shows our commitment to Jesus.
Hearing God’s Word
What happens to still water when you throw a stone into it? (Bring a pan of water to class. Let a student drop a small stone into it. Note the rings of ripples that appear.)
Influencing Our World
Our Christian witness is much like a stone thrown into a quiet pool. The first action comes the splash–the contact with Jesus. Then things begin to happen. The first ripple appears. The new Christian begins to make choices that quickly affect those closest to him. His family sees the change. They may want to become Christians too. When the Christian begins to let the Holy Spirit control his thoughts and actions, his friends will start to take notice. They may wonder what happened to that bad temper their friend used to have. The circle of influence widens.
In the past few weeks we have talked about how witnessing must begin by making a choice to serve Jesus. Then we must live for Jesus at home and include Him in our friendships. This week we will add another area in which we can be an influence. That is in our country and community. We can do this by being a good citizen.
The Bible says a lot about the Christian and his community and country. To discover just what, we are going to become Scripture archaeologists.
Ask: “What does an archaeologist do?” (Allow responses.)
An archaeologist digs into the earth to discover clues about the past. We are going to dig into God’s Word and discover clues that tell us how to live regarding the rules of the land.
First an archaeologist chooses a location for his “dig.” Our dig locations will be these: Matthew 22:15–22; Romans 13:1–7; and 1 Peter 2:13-17. (The students can refer to these suggested Scripture references. Instruct the students to mark the passages as they find them and read them silently.) Let’s see if you can use these clues in real-life situations.
Officer Elijah was on patrol when he saw a car going 40 kilometres per hour in a 20–kilometre zone. He noticed the car had a sign painted on it advertising a certain church. When the officer directed the car to the curb and began to question the woman, she became very upset.
“Why did you pull me over and not the speeding truck ahead of me?” she asked.
He reminded her it was his decision which offenders to stop. “I see by your sign you attend church. Are you a Christian?” he asked.
“Of course,” she replied hatefully.
“Well, I’m one too,” Officer Elijah replied. “If we Christians don’t obey the law, how can we expect others to obey it?”
The woman sat with a frown on her face as the officer wrote her ticket. “Bless you, Officer!” she said sarcastically after he had gone. “Who cares about a silly speed limit?”
Romans 13:1, 2 show us two ways the woman in this story was wrong.
Ask: “Can you decide what these two ways are?” (Let the students give responses.)
First of all, Romans 13:1 tells us to be subject to higher powers. The laws of our land are not given for us to obey if we feel like it. They are given by higher powers, our government officials. Therefore, we should obey them. The lady was ignoring the law when she drove 40 kilometres per hour in a 20-kilometre zone. Also, Romans 13:2 says whoever resists authority is actually resisting God. This woman’s attitude toward the officer was wrong. She resisted the policeman and what he stood for — upholding the law. The woman seemed to blame the policeman for her problem.
Ask: “Who really had the problem?” (Allow responses.)
She broke the law and she had the wrong attitude toward law enforcers.
Paying Our Dues
Now let’s think about some other situations. Mr. X thinks his city has too many football fields. To show his displeasure, he secretly refuses to pay all his taxes. He feels the city government is wasting money on football fields so he doesn’t want to add his money to the waste. Then there is Mr. W who thinks the national government is hopelessly messed up. He puts false information on his income tax forms so he won’t have to pay as much money to the government.
Our memory verse gives us the clues we need to make a decision in each situation.
Ask: “What does it say?” (Allow responses. Then repeat the memory verse together with the students.)
Our Christian witness depends upon our willingness to follow biblical teaching. If these two people would study Romans 13 with an understanding of the Roman government, they would see their wrong reasoning, That passage was written to Christians under Caesar’s rule. Caesar’s government was not just unchristian; it was anti–Christian. It wanted Christianity stamped out. Not only that, Rome used tax money to persecute others and fund wars that made many slaves. Still, Christians were told to pay their taxes. Mr. X and Mr. W were all sinning against God.
Once, some men tried to trick Jesus with a question. “Tell us,” they asked, “is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?”
What verses in our Scripture dig give us Jesus’ answer? (Ask various students to read Matthew 22:17–21.) It was to the Roman government that Jesus commanded Christians to pay taxes.
God Allows Leaders to Rule
Rachel is of the opposite political party from the president of her country. Rachel doesn’t agree with anything the president says or does. She constantly criticizes his speeches and ideas. She calls him unkind names when she sees him on TV.
Ask: “What Scripture verse does Rachel need to know about?” (Allow responses. Then have a student read 1 Peter 2:17.)
Some might reason they have a right to disobey any leader who is not godly. But Romans 13:1 tells us otherwise. (Ask a student to read this verse.)
This verse tells us the powers of government are in control because God has allowed them to be. This does not mean all rulers are godly; it means God knows they are there and is allowing it to be so.
In some places laws are made that go against God’s law. If a Christian is forced to choose between obeying either man’s laws or God’s, he must choose God’s. For instance, the early Roman government tried to make Christians worship the emperor, offer sacrifices to idols, and eat meat that had been offered to idols. Each Christian had to make a choice. Many of them died as martyrs because they chose to obey God over man. But unless a law of our land is in direct disobedience to God’s law, we must obey the laws our country has, whether we like them or not.
Digging Into God’s Word
Since we are becoming archaeologists, let’s learn a little more about our jobs. An archaeologist first selects a site, called a “tell.” A tell is a large mound that is flat on top. It looks something like a natural hill from a distance. Thousands of years ago it was level with the surrounding land. But through the centuries when a city was destroyed, perhaps through war, another city was built on the old foundation. Each city was built just a little higher than the last one. Each civilization left layers of remains showing its lifestyle. Archaeologists carefully look at the layers and make discoveries about the past.
Our Bibles have layers of pages filled with discoveries we can find when we begin digging. If we study God’s Word faithfully, He will show us the way to live for Him and to witness by the things we say and do.
Accepting God’s Word
Jesus obeyed the laws of the land. This was part of His living a sinless life for us so He could be the sacrifice for our sin. Briefly explain the plan of salvation. Ask if there are any who would like to accept Jesus as Saviour. Pray individually with each who responds.
Casablanca, Morocco: a beautiful city! Moroccan Arabs: beautiful, gracious, hospitable people!
My first impressions of Morocco are very positive. The country is lovely, offering a touch of the tropics, sandy beaches and modern cities. Moroccan Arabs are Islamic, but they wear the same style of clothing as people in the Western world.
They graciously accepted me, even though I was American and spoke only English. I was amazed how well we were able to communicate using "body language."
I chose an inexpensive hotel for lodging during my stay in Casablanca. It had formerly served as an apartment building, so my room was spacious and had a small kitchen. The facility also housed a barber shop and café. The next morning I slipped into the cafe for breakfast. I ordered coffee and a croissant, but I noticed the other customers - all men - were drinking tea.
The cafe's seating area was comprised of small, round tables, each with three chairs. There were about 30 customers inside, with two men seated at most tables. They placed their chairs side by side rather than around the table. It was evident that sipping tea and chatting with a friend was the Moroccan way to begin a new day.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Good Relationships to Develop
1. Christian messengers to make good friends among the Moroccan Arabs,
2. Christian messengers to open their homes and hearts to unbelievers,
3. Believers in Christ to find ways to build relational bridges in order to share the gospel.
"We have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him" (1 John 3:22).
Study 7 | Jesus is Worthy/Witnessing | africaatts.org/go-teach