Watching delusional people is strangely compelling.  There’s just something fascinating about watching someone disconnected from reality get confronted with the truth.  There’s this movement in the United States and elsewhere where individuals regard themselves as “sovereign citizens.”  They believe they’re not subject to any government dictates unless they consent to them.  There are many YouTube videos of these “sovereign citizens” running up against the real world.  I’ve watched a few. 

It usually begins with a traffic stop because they’re driving a car without license plates.  It then moves on to a confrontation with the police officer.  They refuse to provide their driver’s license, insurance, and proof of registration.  The “sovereign citizen” insists he or she isn’t driving, but traveling.  Driving, they say, is a commercial activity, but every citizen is free to travel without having their vehicle registered, etc.  They refuse to acknowledge the authority of the police officer.  They try to educate the police officer on their supposed constitutional rights.  When the police officer inevitably asks them to get out of the vehicle, they refuse and usually have to be pulled out.  The “sovereign citizen” gets arrested and goes to jail.  The script is amusingly predictable.

It occurred to me that this is exactly the situation with unbelievers.  They act like “sovereign citizens.”  Christian theology would say they’re acting as if they’re autonomous – a law unto themselves.  Except instead of running up against a human government, their resistance is directed to the divine. 

They refuse to acknowledge the lawful authority of God.  They insist they have no responsibility to follow his laws.  Instead, they will do things their own way and they believe they will be vindicated for such a stance.  Just like “sovereign citizens,” the unbeliever believes he or she has inalienable rights that even God cannot violate.  For example, they have the right to be happy doing whatever they want to do, regardless of what God says.

Eventually “sovereign citizens” run up against the real world and so do “autonomous” unbelievers.  It eventually becomes evident that their autonomy is only pretended.  It can only ever be pretended.  In the end, every “sovereign citizen” ends up before the Judge.  The Judge doesn’t put up with pretensions.  There’s an eternal death sentence for these defendants. 

Here’s the thing that bothers me the most when I watch the “sovereign citizen” silliness:  that’s sometimes me.  Sometimes I buy the myth and pretend like that too.  I’m tempted to insist on my own way – like driving without license plates – and I’ve given into that temptation.  But if I’m a Christian, God’s Word wakes me up to reality again.  I see how I’ve been acting is wrong.  I ask for forgiveness for my pretensions through Jesus, the perfect citizen who lived and died in my place.  I ask for strength from the Holy Spirit to help me live like a loyal subject of the King, rather than as a “sovereign citizen.”  I put the license plates back on, so to speak.  To do otherwise is tomfoolery.