THURSDAY, JUNE 8
SCRIPTURE: Romans 13
This is a most interesting chapter that speaks to the responsibilities of the Christ follower in the culture. Paul begins this chapter by talking about human government. I want to take this back a bit further.
God has established three institutions: the family, the government, and the church. By the way, they were created in that order. One of the reasons God created these three institutions is we humans need levels of authority in our lives. Of course, authority with no power to punish is not to be followed or feared. So, when God created these three institutions, He implemented discipline processes even within the local church.
As sinful humans, we tend to rebel against authority in our lives regardless of the source or the right to have authority. In our country, particularly in the rural, conservative south, it is almost a national past time to rebel against the authority of government. For some interesting reason our rebellion seems to grow as the seat of that authority gets further away from us. In other words, we seem to have less trouble with local government, more trouble with state government, and the most trouble with the federal government.
The Bible inserts itself into the middle of that rebellion and reminds us that government is ordained and instituted by God. The Bible goes on to say that as Christ followers we have a responsibility to submit to governmental authority. As verse 5 says, we are to do that not just to escape God’s wrath but because we understand that is the right thing to do.
The obvious question is what do Christ followers do when they live in countries where the government is not exercising authority in a Biblical manner. What do Christ followers do, when the government is acting in ways that are opposed to the Bible?
In those cases, we have to remember that there is a Law that is higher than the government’s. That Law, of course, is the Law of God. And any time the Law of God is contradicted by the law of the land, we have a responsibility to be obey God’s Law. If that obedience gets us in trouble with the government and we are called to account, then we have a responsibility to respond in a Biblical manner. (Matthew 10:19; Acts 4:19-20)
Perhaps a good measure here would be what you got in trouble with the government in the first place. Were you in trouble for doing what God said? Or, were you in trouble for doing what you wanted to do?
When you get to verse 8, you can see where these two questions play out. In verses 8-10, we are reminded that loving others in a Biblical way resolves a lot of issues that could get you in trouble with the government.
As Paul closes this chapter, he reminds us that we really are living in the last days. In light of that, we should live in significantly different ways. Our lives should be distinct from those who don’t know Jesus. Our lives should not be lived to satisfy our own desires but to bring attention and glory to the one, true God.