Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
There’s been a move in this country recently. It’s disturbing. It says that we should not trust authorities. Reject government. Resist law enforcement. Cover up your actions. Question everything, except, of course, the commands above. What’s the rationale? There is some corruption, some leaders are not good leaders, and there are some who would try to take advantage of you for their own gain.
In our reading from Romans 13 this week, the apostle Paul tells us that authorities are God’s authorities. Even if they reject God’s Word, and the authorities in Paul’s day certainly did that a lot, they are still part of God’s created order. They have responsibilities. If they fail, they will have to answer to God. They will probably also have to answer to you and to me. But if they do their job, a civil society will work very nicely.
Is there a time to resist government? Certainly. When authorities require you to do what goes against God’s will, it’s the right time to resist. When they say, for instance, that one people group should be mistreated due to their ethnicity, we resist. God has considered all people the same. Will there be penalties for resistence? It is very likely. That’s all part of the process of calling government to account.
What about the individuals who are operating outside of governmental authority? The bad cop, the overzealous social worker, the activist judge? Resistence is a little more difficult here. It could be that an innocent person goes to jail peaceably, without resisting, then pleads a case with the person in a position of greater authority. It could be that we are able to resist and plead our case then and there. It may not happen until later.
The picture Paul gives us is a world in which our momentary circumstances are just that, momentary. There is one Lord in charge of all. He is Jesus, who has redeemed us from the grip of sin and death. Nobody can stop his gift of eternity. Given time and the right attitude, we can influence the governing authorities to govern well, to treat people fairly, and, by God’s grace, to believe that Jesus cares for them as well.
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