The Story: While preaching his way through the Gospel of Mark, Mark Dever came to that section where Jesus is questioned about paying taxes to Caesar (Mark 12:13-17).
Despite standing in a pulpit five blocks from the Capitol, Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., doesn't often plunge into politics from the pulpit. He doesn't believe that to be his calling. The text that September 2010 morning, however, demanded reflection on how believers should think about and relate to the political realm.
Collin Hansen, who attended the service, later wrote that it was "the best sermon I know on Christianity and government." Likewise, Thabiti Anyabwile described it as "a biblical theology of Christians and the state, at once full of unction, intellectually challenging, and affecting the heart. I've heard a lot of Mark's preaching, but I don't know that I've ever heard him better."
Dever offered three simple points from Mark 12:13-17. First, Christians are good citizens. Second, no earthly kingdom can be identified with God's people. Third, Christians are finally accountable to God.
Why It Matters: With election day just around the corner, Dever's message bears fresh relevance. By listening to the sermon and reading Hansen's copious summary, you will be well served.
As Americans, it's often helpful to be reminded that the epicenter of Christ's kingdom is not located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And the purposes of God have never been thwarted at the hands of men---a streak that's not about to end on November 6. Such a recognition isn't quietism or escapism---just biblical Christianity.
President Obama and Governor Romney are, like you and me, feeble creatures of dust. They're worthy of our honor (Eccl. 10:20; 1 Pet. 2:17), but never our hope.
So pay your taxes, choose your candidate, and cast your vote (politics does matter, after all), but do so as one whose trust is anchored in another world. As citizens of "a better country" (Heb. 11:16; cf. Phil. 3:20), we the people of the risen King await "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet. 3:13).
Whatever comes of our quadrennial sojourn to the ballot box, we can rest in the sovereign goodness of a Father who sits enthroned in the heavens and, with majesty and mystery, does whatever he pleases.
Matt Smethurst serves as associate editor for The Gospel Coalition. He and his wife Maghan have two children and live in Louisville, Kentucky, where they belong to Third Avenue Baptist Church. You can follow him on Twitter.