When you live the life of a believer, you get noticed. When you truly follow God and Love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, others notice – both those who see you as an example, and the forces of evil who see you as a threat.
One of the reasons we are to love like God loves is because of the fact that others are watching. If our lives do not look any different, then are we truly any different?
Paul goes from explaining this in Romans 12, to challenging us with one of the harder scenarios for doing it in Romans 13, submitting in love to authorities. So let’s look a couple examples of this through scriptural examples.
Daniel chapter 1 tells us that the king of Babylon conquered Judah and ordered that some of the Israelites from the royal family and nobility were to be brought into the king’s service. Four young men were chosen from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The three, besides Daniel, we commonly know by their Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Verse 8: “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Think about that for a second as an example of what Paul is discussing. The authority placed over Daniel was the greatest enemy you might imagine. This ruler and his staff had not only overthrown Jerusalem, the Holy city and carted off Daniel into service to the king, but this is the same king who defiled the temple of God and stole articles from the temple. So what does Daniel do? He asks permission to not eat their food. And the result? Verse 9: “Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel”. We see this time and time again with these 4 young men. Not only do they “cling to what is good”, but they fully submit in full confidence that God can overcome anything… even to the point of 3 of them being thrown alive into a fiery furnace!
The best example for us is Jesus. Jesus did not lack for oppressive authorities, both throughout His life and in His “trial” and crucifixion. Jesus did not hide from the authorities. In almost every situation, we have notes of the side conversations that were initiated when the authorities approached Him to question what He was doing. What we witness Jesus doing is loving them in the way God loves (not hard for Him to do since He is God, right?) That clearly did not mean that He went along with what they said or did. What He never failed to do was to speak truth to them. Sometimes the truth may have sounded harsh such as calling them a “brood of vipers”. But, it was, in fact, the truth and God loved them enough to appear in front of them in the body of the Son of God and speak the truth to them and warn them of whom they were serving (which was not Him!). Even at His trial and death, Jesus fully submitted to earthly authorities, even with legions of angels at His command, He instructed Peter to put away the sword and healed the ear of the guard.
Just like these two, others notice how we interact with authorities in our lives. Our hearts, our words, our faith and our actions should all be saying the same thing. We accept that God is in control and we obey His call to love as He loves.
Because, in one way or another, all leaders bring some level of organization either toward or against something. God is the Master of all things and uses them and their position of authority to shape things for an eternal purpose and for His love of us, even when we do not understand.
They are God’s servants. They are established by God. They are instituted by God.
God works all things for the good of those who love Him. (including leaders and especially leaders)
I need to be cautious that I am not labeling in situations where I firmly disagree. It doesn’t mean we all have to agree on the same course, ideologies or fiscal policies, however, we should not resort to name calling, but instead should recognize that we both want what is best for the citizens even if they are wrong (:-))