Sunday – September 18, 2022
Word On Worship – Sunday – September 18, 2022
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God…”
Over the years I have found Christians are little different than non-Christians in their attitudes and responses toward authority. Compliance is given, but cooperation is not always guaranteed. Christians comply with the law, slowing down as we pass the police car with its radar speed detection equipment, but as soon as we are sure it is safe, we drive normally—and illegally. In Romans 13:1-7, Paul deals directly with the Christian’s attitude and conduct with respect to civil government authority.
The church is involved today in the same struggle Paul addresses with the Church at Rome. In the earlier days of our nation, our government was founded on many Christian convictions. If our early government founders and officials were not Christians, at least their beliefs and values were compatible with Christian doctrines and practices. However, over the years, our culture and our government has strayed farther and farther from Christianity. Christians and their values are quickly becoming a minority view according to a Pew Research Center study released this week. Consequently, we should expect the government will increasingly regulate, hinder, and even oppose Christian activity.
When Paul speaks of submission to government, he does so in the context of service which is the main theme of Romans 12:1–13:7. We are challenged by Paul in 12:1-2 to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable service of worship. Paul then speaks of our sacrificial service in terms of the church, the body of Christ, and of the exercise of our spiritual gifts (12:3-8). In verses 9-21 Paul writes of our service in the context of love, whether we are serving our fellow-believers or our enemy. Subordination to civil government is discussed in Romans 13:1-7, only to find Paul returning to the theme of walking in love in verses 8 and following.
Daniel illustrates the truth of Romans 13:1-7 and exposes the folly of our fleshly efforts to affect change in government. Daniel was a young political hostage, with no credentials or political clout to impress his Babylonian captors. Daniel was but a single man, living in a godless society and in a heathen culture. And yet Daniel had tremendous political influence on several kings and administrations over a long period of time. What was it that made Daniel the E. F. Hutten of his day? What made kings listen when he spoke? I believe the answer is that Daniel subordinated himself to the heathen, human government of Babylon as God’s divinely ordained institution.
Daniel was a man who was respected and sought by the political leaders of his day. Why? I believe it was because Daniel was practicing what Paul later preached. Daniel was serving God by his subordination to civil government. As he sought to serve God with a clear conscience, he refused to do only that which was disobedient to God and defiling to his conscience. As he served God, he eagerly cooperated and supported the governmental system under which God had placed him. Down through history, men like Daniel have had a profound impact on kings and government officials—even though they served God and even though they were in the minority. May God grant that we will present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices, as we subordinate ourselves to others and to the government He has ordained.