Focus: Rom. 13:1-7
Revolt against the government is everywhere. It seems weekly marches against the government and its policies have become the norm. Everyone is standing up for their rights and demanding their priorities. Sadly, it has led to a division in Washington that makes it hard to care for the needs of the people. If ever there was a time for people to take up arms against a government, it would have been in the time of Paul. Paul is writing the Christians in the city of Rome in 57 AD during the time of Nero. Nero is the Roman Emperor who began the persecution of the Christians. He is the emperor who had both Paul and Peter put to death for being Christians. Paul would challenge us to appreciate the benefits that we have in government. He would point to three things that government does for the people. Our challenge is not to overthrow the government, but to make it better than it is now.
When the government is working right, it commends what it good and punishes what is bad. Government supports those who do what is right v.3. It gives people a chance to succeed by providing opportunities for education, a good job afterward and our slice of the American dream. You have to work hard for those things, but here in America because of our government, that is still an option. Government works to bring to justice those who steal or harm our bodies v.4. They are God’s agents against those who would do wrong. Can you imagine what it must be like in third world countries where there are few consequences for theft, murder or rape? God gave government so that the righteous prosper and the evil is punished. Because of government, the people can flourish and live in safety.
When the government is working right, we have the services that we need. No one likes taxes, and often they seem anything but fair, but they help the governments that God has created provide us with the core services that we need on a regular basis. Taxes are a pooling of our monies to provide necessary things like libraries, fire departments, and schools. God gives government so that we can have a better quality of life. People struggle in third world countries where there is no water or sewer or even paved streets. The government is God’s way of pooling our resources so that we can have a better way of life with all the benefits that He provides.
Paul wants us to submit to the authorities v. 5. Paul would say that we have a responsibility to make the government as helpful as possible. The first way to do that is to submit to the authorities and obey the laws that our government has passed. You need to follow the stop lights and speed laws. You need to pay your taxes on time. No one said that we get to decide what laws are good and bad and force governments to follow our will by a show of strength. Good government comes when we have a sense that we are all in this together. The nation is strongest when people look to the greater good and not to their benefit. In such a place they encourage leaders to find long-term solutions even if there is a short time hardship. I am a Christian – so what? Paul would say in this text that we need to be good citizens who try to make our country secure. We will be the beneficiaries of a strong America where its people serve one another.