Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities..." Rom 13

Posted by Christine Pack

Up until yesterday, I was discussing American politics, particularly, who would be leading our nation for the next four years after all was said and done with the campaigning, debating, and voting. I hoped it would be the conservative non-Christian candidate whose moral values most closely reflected my own (as opposed to the more liberal candidate whose moral values most decidedly did not). Turns out, it didn't happen that way.
"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." (Romans 13:1-2)
But, Christians, this world is not our home. We are sojourners on our way to heaven, where we will be forevermore governed by the King of kings and Lord of lords. And yet, until that time comes, the Bible has some very practical and direct things to say about what our earthly lives should look like, specifically with respect to bearing up under governments and kingdoms with which we disagree. Unfortunately, there have always been a very small (but very vocal) minority of Christians who insist that we shouldn't pay taxes to a corrupt world system, we mustn't honor the corrupt leaders because they are wicked, etc., etc. But not only is this foolish thinking (and unnecessarily makes Christians a target over the wrong things), it is unbiblical thinking. We are clearly, plainly and unambiguously told in Scripture that we should pay taxes and honor our rulers. Even President Obama?? some say. Well, yes, even President Obama. He's our governing authority, right?

So maybe we could all just take a breath, and go back to our cornerstone, God's word, and get our bearings again, where we will be reminded that......

.....the Apostle Paul exhorted fellow Christians to submit to their governing authorities. And lest we think poor long ago Paul couldn't possibly understand what it meant to bear up under wicked and corrupt leaders, let's remember that Emperor Nero, the emperor who was ruling Rome when Paul wrote Romans 13, liked to impale Christians from poles leading into Rome and light them on fire to let travelers coming into the city know what he thought of Christians (not much).

......the prophet Daniel modeled with his behavior and his words great respect for the wicked king Nebuchednezzar, before and after King Nebuchednezzar had Daniel's friends thrown into a fiery furnace, and even after King Nebuchednezzar, much later, had Daniel himself thrown into a lion's den.
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:1)
So, Barack Hussein Obama has been re-elected President. According to Scripture, which cannot fail, cannot lie, and is the inerrant, inspired word of God, we are to honor this leader. We are to pay taxes to the government under him. And not only that, we are to do so from "sincerity of heart," as unto the Lord:
"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him...... Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." (Col 3:17, 22-24)
Will this be easy? No, it will not be easy. In fact, it will be impossible, unless we are intentionally praying about this and abiding in Christ, asking that the Holy Spirit might guide us and strengthen us in our thoughts and actions. And always of course, with the undergirding thoughts that our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), and that, until God calls us home and into our heavenly citizenship, we are meant to reflect something of God's purity and holiness, however imperfectly, to the lost and dying world around us.
"Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world." (Philippians 2:15)

 Additional Resources 

Christians, Let's Honor The President (by Dr. Russel Moore, Dean of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Aftermath: Lessons From the 2012 Election (by Dr. Al Mohler, President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)