Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

The One in Authority is God’s Servant

Romans 13:4

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Ray 2018Before I pen the first words in this devotional thought – I imagine there will be those who agree with me and those who disagree with me. I have friends who will debate this passage with me and argue that the current circumstance doesn’t fit into this passage. I’ve love to hear their take on this section of the Bible.

Let’s take a look at the world where Paul lived for a moment. In the early church – Christians were being persecuted by their own people – in many cases – as Orthodox Jews saw them as heretics (Paul/Saul was among them early on). Not only were they being persecuted by the Jews – who put their Lord to death – they were being persecuted by Rome. Rome was an oppressive power at the time Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. Christians were being crucified in arenas – put before wild animals and gladiators as well. It was the worst of times some might say.

Paul writes these words to those Christians under such a terrible burden and oppression. Here’s today’s passage in partial context. Romans 13:1–7 – 1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Speaking only of the Christians now – I’ve known people who call themselves Christians who didn’t act very well toward previous Presidents (POTUS). Some had major disagreements with Obama – Bush 2 – Clinton – Bush 1 – Reagan – Carter – Ford – Nixon – Johnson – Kennedy – and Eisenhower (that is as far back as my life and memory goes). We’ve never had a perfect President – to my knowledge. They’ve all had issues – sins – some even had an evil streak one might say. By acknowledging this – I’m not excusing Christians for saying mean and vile things against the POTUS in office. Lord knows we had reason to say things against every one of them. A number cheated on their wives while in office for instance. Some thought more of their political careers than the lives of the men and women they represented. Some took us into wars – some would say unjust wars (I’m listening to some protest songs from the Vietnam era). The list of issues is too exhausting to list here.

I know some Christians who voted for Trump because they couldn’t vote for Clinton. I know some who couldn’t vote for either. I know some who were one issue voters – the SCOTUS appointments or abortion for example. I know some who think the Electoral College should be abolished and it should be a popular vote. I could go on and on – since and before the 2016 election – I have heard it all I think. Everyone has a complaint it seems.

I know that President Trump has loads of issues – personal and professional. They have been listed on many posts and social media listings. I will not list his bad points or good points in this post. Suffice it to say – I believe we didn’t have a good choice in 2016. Both major candidates had major issues in my thinking. Both – in their own way – would have been a less than ideal President in so many ways.

What this post is about – is calling Christians to civility and to pray for our President – as many have for past Presidents they disagreed – adamantly with – in the past. It is what I believe we are called to do as Christians. Even those who are killing us. Even those who throw us to the lions or crucify us in public arenas. Help me see Paul’s encouragement of the early church in a different way.

What if God has allowed Trump to be President for God’s purposes? What if God knew how much more damaging another might have been in office? God used King David (an adulterer and murderer) – and He uses us – He can use anyone. God used many imperfect vessels – even nations – to bring about His will. He can make good come out of bad – if we pray. 2 Chronicles 7:14 – if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

I’m not saying turn a blind eye to any leader in society or the church. I’m saying – I believe Christians are called to yield to the authorities over us and even pray for those who do evil against them. Matthew 5:43–48 – 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I know some will disagree. I would love to hear your take on this passage from Romans if you disagree. I would love to hear your take on the other passages I have listed too.

As for me – I will continue to pray for our POTUS. He is our President till 2020 and maybe – until 2024. He is imperfect – by a long shot – but I will pray for him. Just as I prayed for past Presidents I thought were vile and corrupt and leading us astray – politically and even morally. There is good in everyone. How about praying that the good in him rises as he leads our nation? The one in authority is God’s servant.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

September 7, 2018 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Completely correct. We do not judge, we only discern right from wrong/good from evil, and only God judges. It seems that for us to not pray for our leadership to be influenced by God is to judge the persons by our thoughts/standards. They will answer to God, as will we.


    Comment by Richard Reynnells | September 8, 2018 | Reply

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