“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” – Romans 13:1
These words are heavy to digest. This recent campaign season was so vitriolic; we are clearly a divided nation. And, today, the 45th President of the United States takes office in a hot climate of debate and discord.
Romans 13 is hard to fulfill in all walks of life, though, not just at the national level or in the political arena alone. Paul writes about accepting all levels of authority and not merely to respect that particular position. He argues that God establishes order for our protection and encourages us to do good in order that we may have a good conscience, as well as not fearing the wrath of authority.
Yet, accepting authority is sometimes very hard to do. I find encouragement in looking to history and God’s use of what man considered a bad situation:
- Joseph, son of Jacob – Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, who were jealous of the favor he found with their father. What they never imagined is that not only would Joseph prosper in Egypt, but that a devastating famine would require them to travel to Egypt for survival. In the end, God used Joseph’s captivity to ensure Israel’s longevity.
- Ester – Esther was a Jewish woman living in captivity after King Nebuchadnezzar deposed the kingdom of Israel. When she found favor with King Ahasuerus, it was not known that she was a Jew. After she was Queen, a plan was devised to destroy the Jews in King Ahasuerus’s realm. God used Queen Esther to protect His people and save them from ruin.
- Paul – This former Pharisee was thrown into prison many times for his work spreading the Gospel. Yet, each time Paul was in prison we are told that he evangelized to those in prison and, in at least one case, converted the jailer. Paul also used his imprisonments, mostly his Roman house arrest, to write to the early churches as he was not personally able to meet with them. These epistles have become a large portion of the New Testament, which not only encouraged the early church, but to minister to us today.
- Jesus – The Sadducees and Pharisees attempted to discredit Jesus many times, only to discredit themselves in the process. Ultimately, they resorted to killing him. What they didn’t know – thankfully – was that by killing Jesus they adhered to God’s plan of salvation for all.
We may not know how the Lord will use the United States or each of it’s leaders, but we can be assured that He will use their actions to carry-out His plan. Another thing we can be assured of is our role: we must respect the authority of others. In doing so we are honoring God’s authority and acting on our faith in Him.
So as we start another administration, let’s aim to be respectful even if we disagree with one another. Romans 13:12 directs us in our desire to be good neighbors: “…Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
May we walk as children of the Light!
(This post was also shared with Thought Provoking Thursdays on 3-D Lessons for Life’s site.)