Posts Tagged ‘Romans 13’

In my opinion the context of Paul in his letter probably written for his new non Jewish audience was about what to do now that we are Christian? Does our freedom in Christ, or maybe even our very Christian nature allow us to challenge the secular government of the day. As we see in many ways it does as the apostles along with Paul broke the law. They refused to obey Cesar continued to spread the gospel despite the law. For such acts they were punished, but they were not shamed, but proud. I believe Paul wanted the converts to be good Romans to not break moral or natural law, because within that one finds peace and freedom from those who enforce the law. But at times when practicing and preaching the gospel our authority in Christ allows us to fight the law just as Jesus who healed on the sabbath. Just as the believers in Scripture as well as our modern missionaries in lands in which Christianity is forbidden, and yes in America when injustice is taking place. Also I may add our very constitution allows within the law the right to protest it even goes so far to speak of dismantling the government if it starts to fail. We are not in Rome under Roman authorities. Remember even Jesus destroyed property in the name of justice.

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“Owe no one nothing but to love one another.”  During this divisive time we must look to the scriptures to see how we as Christians should act during a Trump Administration.  Nate will discuss Romans chapter 13, allowing us to deal with the upcoming crisis.

 

My fellow brothers and sisters of the Christian faith, as a minister of the gospel of Christ I feel it is important to examine through scripture how we should look towards the upcoming Trump administration. Why I am I investing so much time in this election you may ask? When I see people being spiritually defeated, families being ripped apart, and hate being spread on both sides of the political spectrum then as Christians we must look at how we should conduct our lives during these times of turmoil.

As usual when it comes to matters of scripture interpretation is everything. We must remember even during the Civil War both North and South believed they were being guided by the hand of God. So is it now amongst Christians, those who support an ultraconservative/theocracy in which Christian values are forced upon the people, and Christians who believe that people should choose to live moral lives without government intervention. While that being said no amount of morality will give any of us favor with God as it is only by faith in Christ we our saved.

Let us look towards Romans chapter 13 as a guide. Paul in his letter to the Romans is giving his Christian brothers and sisters guidelines on how to live under an oppressive government. Let me remind you that Paul is primarily speaking to the Jewish population during this time as it was very hard for them to find a way to live under the leadership of Rome. Just as the Jews under Rome, today we face the leadership of a Trump administration. As we look at the text Paul starts out talking about love and ends talking about love as the greatest of laws. This is highly important as the law of love is the greatest in the universe.

Let us look at the end of Romans 12 as Paul leads into talking about believers under secular government.

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;     if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Vs.17-21, NIV)

This incoming administration has shown a great intolerance for diversity. This coming more so from those who voted Trump into office. The country is divided one side who wishes to live in unity and peace, while the other wishes to take away the freedoms of many. We see evil being shown to minorities, refugees, those of other religions, the LGBT community, women, and the list continues. We also see signs of fascism in which the Administration wishes to impose their agenda upon the people limiting the freedoms of speech. We see this with those who are not happy with the American government and display acts in which some interpret as unpatriotic, could we one day be sent to prison for not standing for the National Anthem? As a Christian my Kingdom is God’s not the United States. A large segment of the country are onboard with Trump and take his words many steps forward and radicalize them, they are now emboldened to say things in which they would never say in public before. They believe they have their great leader, and the sad thing is many are my fellow brothers and sisters who think this way. Yet the law of love tells us how we must act.

So what can we do under a government who wishes to take away the will of the people? The Jews under the Romans had to deal with their Roman authority figures as we do today. Paul is very blunt and to the point. Let us look at his words.

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. (13:1-5, NIV)  

            The scripture is clear, as long as the government is not imposing anything against the law of love then we must act in obedience. Yet in many ways in our country the threat may not come from the government itself but from those in which support the incoming administration, in that case we must defer to the law of love. We must do what we can to spread the message of love, all people not just Americans but refuges in foreign lands, our fellow Americans of different ethnicity and skin color, our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community, the continuing support for women’s rights, and those of other faiths. We must do this without breaking the law, unless the law is against the law of love. We may respond with peaceful protest and demonstrations without violence or in any way hurting another human being. We can stand united as a Church against the evils of our fellow man and maybe, just maybe win some. Remember our fight is not against flesh and blood. Even those whom we may look upon as the enemy God loves. If God loves them then so should we. Jesus forgave on the cross, we can turn the other cheek and move forward in love just as our Lord.

So let us not be confused that Romans 13 is stating that Christians must follow any government that happens to come into power. Paul is stating we must respect the powers that be, but let not the powers that be move us from our mission of love through Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul finishes up by returning to the law of love as the fulfillment of the law.

 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Vs.8-10, NIV)

“Love does no harm to a neighbor” these beautiful words in which we now must live out as so much hate has filled the hearts of man. With so much division we must unite as a church to live in the unity found in love. Let us pray more, fellowship more, and preach the gospel more even as we see the day drawing near.