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.
Dear God, our modern Christianity seems to have lost this passage. At least in America. Sometime in the 70s (maybe is was after Roe v. Wade), we decided that we would not submit to our government but ensure we controlled our Christian agenda from the top down. Then the moral majority came in the 80s and we were off and running. Now, it seems that we have made an idol out of ruling from above instead of serving from below.
So what do I need to do to be a better servant? What do I need to do to be better at serving from below? I received an email from an organization that helps sex trafficking victims yesterday. I shared it with my wife. Yes, it is important that we legislate against sex trafficking, but the truth is that we can petition our lawmakers while, as individuals, we seek to make a difference at a grassroots level.
I often have people tell me I should run for a local political office. I always laugh and tell them that there is no prize for doing that, and I can get more done as a private citizen than I can from a governmental level. So I have friends in the government. I talk with them and let them know about some problems I see and how the government might come alongside us to solve some of them. But my calling is not to be part of the government.
Father, it would be easy to say that Paul didn’t understand what it was like to live under a bad, harsh government that was doing corrupt things, but I guarantee living under our government was better than living under his. He apparently understood just fine. So if I am to take his words to heart, I need to submit to you and seek your will for me. Help me to hear your voice and worship you well today.
In Jesus’s name I pray,