Lisa Sheffler, author
It’s Friday! Let’s take some time to celebrate the reign of King Jesus, spend with our Father, and invite the Spirit to transform us.
What is your biggest takeaway from Romans 13:1–7? How would you apply this passage to your current understanding of government and your responsibilities as a Christian?
Echoing Jesus’ teaching to “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar, and the things that are God’s to God” (Matthew 22:21), Paul reminds the Roman churches of their obligation to their earthly rulers, and in the entire book of Romans, insists that their worship and allegiance belong to Jesus Christ, the Lord. We live as his ambassadors and should seek to bring his righteousness, mercy, love, and compassion to our neighbors. Until he returns, Christians will live under governments that are just and righteous to varying degrees. But our ultimate hope is not in government, but in Jesus.
In a sin-saturated world, government will fall short of its calling. When political or religious leaders use Romans 13 as a weapon to try and gain unwavering and unquestioning compliance, Christians should think carefully about why they are resorting to this tactic. We should honor the authorities God places over us, while also holding them accountable for those responsibilities that God has entrusted to them.
Paul is not advocating absolute, blind obedience to the government. The apostles certainly tangled with the Jewish and Roman authorities on more than one occasion. Peter seems to sum up their posture toward those in power when he was ordered to stop teaching about Jesus, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29). God is our ultimate authority.
Nevertheless, Paul is expecting Christ’s followers to live as good citizens under the authority of the government God has appointed. It’s easy to forget that these “governing authorities” are made up of individual people who have been given the difficult task of serving the citizens of a nation. From school board members to police officers to judges to members of Congress, they are asked to do their part to provide safety, promote good, provide justice, and help create an environment where every citizen can flourish. For every complaint or concern that we have about our government, let’s offer up a prayer for those serving in it.
How can you pray for those serving in our government? How can you support them? Could you have a meaningful conversation with someone in local government and ask them?
What can you do to promote righteousness, justice, mercy, and goodness in our government? What might that look like?
How can you become a better citizen of your nation by becoming a better citizen of Christ’s kingdom?