Romans 13:1-2 - Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
For many, these two small verses seem to be hard to swallow. Some of the most politically outspoken people in the United States today are Christians. While this is not and will continue to not be a political blog, for some reason, this was the verse that I felt upon which I need to write.
Paul wrote the book of Romans from Corinth during the close of his third missionary journey. Rome at that time was the capital of the Empire and it was by far the most important city in the world. Though Paul had never been the the Church in Rome, there was already a group of believers established and he wrote to them in order to inform them of correct doctrine and practice.
In chapter 13, Paul bluntly exhorts the Romans to be subject to the human authorities above them. The Greek grammar implies that they should place themselves willfully as subjects under the Roman authority. At the time, Rome was ruled by pagans who were unsympathetic to the cause of Christ. Yet, believers were to place themselves under their authority and abide by the laws made. The reason for this was that God is the ultimate authority who has allowed all those in power to maintain their position. Therefore, if someone resists the authority on earth, they are ultimately rejecting God's sovereign placement and will be judged for their disobedience.
The only exception to this exhortation that can be found in Scripture is when an authority figure asks the subject to do something that is in direct violation to the Word of God (Ex. 1:17; Dan. 3:16-18; 6:7,10; Acts 4:19-20; 5:28-29). It is in these times you see God's hand of protection around those who disobey the human ruler in order to obey God.
If we are willingly to be subject to those with power over us, how should our attitudes be towards them? If we simply obey the laws, but show no respect for the office or the person, are we truly abiding by Romans 13:1-2? Though we might not always agree with those who have authority over us, we still must willingly place ourselves under their leadership. By doing so, we must learn to be good followers.
The challenge today is to think about who in your life has God place in authority over you, whether it is at home, at work, or in government. How can you better submit yourself to their authority? What can you do today to show them that you respect them and that you are willing to follow their leadership?