Today Paul speaks to us about obeying those in authority over us. This is not always easy to do because of how corrupt some of our governments have become. But God is still in control and we are told to obey.
Even “evil” governments are put here for a purpose. Some examples of that are: 1) Pharaoh when God was bringing the people out of Egypt; 2) Babylonian empire at the time of Daniel; 3) Roman and Israel’s priesthood at the time of Jesus. God used each of these examples as instruments for His plan.
Did everything these rulers did glorify God? Absolutely not! Did everything they did please God? No way!! These governments were rife with examples of cruelty, blasphemy, and oppression but they were still God’s instruments.
I know there are “governments” or ruling authorities throughout the world that are probably as cruel to those they govern as some of the afore mentioned governments were. Many of these authorities have made laws against believing in Jesus and enforce them with deadly consequences. But there are also governments that many individuals rail against simply because we want no restrictions at all. “How dare they try and infringe upon my freedoms!” I happen to live under the latter of these authorities and am very grateful for such mundane concerns.
So where does the balance lie? How do we live within the bounds of our governing authorities while still honoring God? If you are fortunate enough to live in a region where religious freedom is not curtailed by government, honoring God is much easier. There are no laws I personally have to bend or break in order to share my belief in Jesus or follow His statutes. For those who are prohibited from sharing their faith publicly, I pray for your safety. I believe God would have you obey the laws of the land that don’t go directly against His laws.
The story from Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego comes to mind. They obeyed every command of their rulers EXCEPT bowing down to the false god. They followed the One True God and refused to bow to another or remain to even pretend to honor any other god. They were prepared to die rather than bow down.
They were also willing to accept the punishment for their “disobedience.” They knew that when breaking this command they were subject to whatever punishment those in authority chose to meet out. They also knew the sentence going into this situation. They had no illusions of getting of easy or expecting to be given a pass. The choice was clear and they made it of their own free will.
I used to be blind to the fact that Christians are still facing life and death consequences for their faith but not anymore. I can only offer my prayers for those of you who face this choice on a day to day basis. I trust God to care for you as easily as He cares for me. He power is not constrained by our government’s rules.
For the rest of the laws we are under, we are to obey them. This is what God calls us to do. I will confess that I struggle with some of the financial rules at times and with the speed limits on MANY occasions. I had to repent for my behavior in these areas when I was reading today. I think today’s reading was very pointed to me tonight because we had to go through our annual recertification for benefits today. I had to be very mindful of all the rules and remember to STAY within their bounds.
Father God, thank You that I do live under an authority that doesn’t try to restrict my relationship with You. Please forgive me for “bending” some of the rules I am governed by. Help me demonstrate my respect to those in authority over me and stay within the bounds of ALL my laws. Forgive me for the times I have blatantly stepped out of those bounds for whatever reason.
More than all else though Father, please watch over my brothers and sisters who risk their lives when following You. Protect them and use them mightily. Give them the strength they need to stand when a choice is called for. I would love to see all governments remove their barriers to You but I know that is not going to happen until after Jesus comes. So until then, please watch over each of my brothers and sisters in harm’s way.