For those in authority, that they obey God’s will
For fellow citizens, that they may obey God’s will
Today’s text: Romans 13:1-14
THIS PASSAGE SITS HARD on the ears of modern people, conditioned as we are with our ideas of democracy that those in authority “serve” us and not, as Paul seems to imply, the other way around. We are not subjects, except, maybe of ourselves.
But Paul has another view in mind. Part of the background to this text is a book titled The Wisdom of Solomon, which is included in the Apocrypha (texts not included in the canon of Scripture but especially recommended by the Church Fathers). A small section of that book reminds rulers of the same fact: your authority comes from God, and your job is to know well the ways of the Lord and ensure that your “works and plans” are approved of by God, who will judge you sternly. Paul sees clearly that both the ruler and the ruled are bound to God and to each other by their relative duties and obligations. Paul sharpens that focus as he writes to the Roman church that the call to love the neighbor even extends to the neighbor who sits upon the seat of authority. In the case of Americans, we are to pursue our duties as citizens with the same zealous love for the neighbor as we might in any other portion of our lives as parents, children, workers, bosses, etc.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks