Submission to the Authorities
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. – Romans 13:1
Paul wrote the book of Romans for the Jews who lived in Rome. To them, this was a very controversial statement. The Jews wished for the Messiah to overthrow the Roman government and put the Jews on top, but Jesus didn't do that for them. The Jews had their vision of what they expected from a Messiah.
Jesus didn't deny their request out of spite. Jesus denied their request out of love because Jesus knew that having the Jews rule over the world wouldn't lead to eternal satisfaction. For there is no one greater than God in this world, the king of kings and lord of lords. Nothing in this world can happen without God permitting it to be so.
This includes government, even if governments seem oppressive. Not to say that we shouldn't stand up for ourselves. In fact, I'm not even saying that rebellion is bad or wrong. For even governments have their origin (and a great many of them originated through rebellion).
The most important thing is to not worship your own ideal of government more than God himself. Yes, government worship is very much present in today's world. In the US, the divide between the two dominating parties is quite large. Each party's members have their ideals of what they envision the perfect government to be. And they're both wrong. Because they seek to rule themselves apart from God.
But we believers know that God's government is the only perfect government possible.
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. – Romans 13:7
Yes, you should most certainly pay your taxes and follow the law. And even if your government levies heavy taxes on you, take comfort knowing that the world's government can only take from you physically. But if you are in Christ, the world's government can never take that away from you.
Fulfilling the Law Through Love
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. – Romans 13:10
Paul makes a perfect transition from fulfilling governmental law to God's law. Those in Christ have more laws to follow and have to work a bit harder. But the reward is also greater–for we have the truth, and the truth sets us free.
And the truth is the following: the only way that we can fulfill the law is through love. And since God is love, that means the only way we can fulfill the law is through God. We are incapable of doing so on our own. That's why we need God to help us.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. – Romans 13:14
The hint to letting God help us is to prioritize Jesus over our flesh. Our flesh will inherently want to gratify its flesh-based desires. However, we will need to deny our flesh and let Jesus fill in that void left behind.
Every weekend I write about some thoughts, life lessons, and interesting things I came by for the week. I'd love for you to join.