Thursday, April 23, 2015

Romans 13 and Speaking Truth to Power

Many Christians will fold up and go all quiet at the specter of the hand of government. Others will stand firm on what they call the Judeo-Christian moral principles found in scriptures. Both groups fail to grok the full meaning of Romans 13.

Romans 13:1-7

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Put simply, we are to obey our governments, pay our taxes and to honor the political leadership of our nation. This is so regardless of who is in power or whether they honor Yahweh, Allah or Vishnu or even only themselves.  This is difficult for me as an American. We tend to dislike the political leadership, regardless of what party they are in. We do not like to be told what to do and what to approve and not to approve. It is the same on the right and on the left. We all have things we wish the government would do or leave alone and stay out of. Much of today's issues based politics is centered around these things.

But the fact is that we, as Christians, have to obey, we have to submit and we have to pay if we wish to honor God.

In the Church Age, God is not about changing nations and cultures and governments. God is about changing men and women one person at a time through faith in Jesus Christ and then saving them for eternal life. God can make this happen in a power vacuum or in a totalitarian regime or even a place like Rome in the 1st century. A Christian culture is not necessary and we should not be trying to make one. Our goal should be merely to make more Christians and let God sort out the other stuff.

The only time that it is acceptable for us Christians to disobey the governing authorities is when, they demand that we stop preaching in the name of Jesus or when they demand that we repudiate our faith. When this happens, all bets are off. Disobedience to the governing authorities is demanded and required. This can be dangerous and even deadly. Peter and Paul both felt the cold, dead hand of the state's power as did John after them. The day may come when we have to die for the cause of Christ.

That day is not today.

Today we need to spend our time preaching and teaching the love that Jesus Christ has for everyone. We need to put aside all the moral issues of our time and present unbelievers with the risen Christ. Let them deal with Jesus and let Jesus deal with them. We are not to be an unbeliever's judge. Who are we to judge another man's servant?

If we spent money spreading the gospel instead of creating an environment of hate by demanding that non-Christians obey our moral code, the Church in America might begin to grow exponentially.

Christian organizations that spend our money lobbying government authorities are wasting God's money and their time. This is not what God wants. The government and the culture is what it is. It will only change when people have a reason to make that happen. Only Christ can give them that reason. Preach the gospel. Leave hate and the anger with the devil where it started.  

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