Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. (Romans 13:1 NLT)
When we understand our relationship with God and choose to worship Him all the time all our other attitudes and behaviors will reflect that decision. Paul makes this point in the strongest possible way by declaring that our relationship with God should be reflected in our relationship with the government. At the time that Paul wrote this the church was not undergoing significant persecution. Paul’s missionary journeys were enabled by the general peace that existed throughout the Roman empire. His travels were made easier by the roads the Romans had built with the taxes they collected. The Roman government would eventually determine that people who chose Jesus as their Lord were a danger to a system that proclaimed Caesar as lord. When this happened, this instruction became much more difficult.
There are occasions when we find this instruction challenging in America. In many parts of the world this instruction is a daily challenge. Paul will eventually be executed by the government he calls the church to submit to. He demonstrates with his life that the command to love God and neighbor takes precedence over bowing to Caesar as god. Unfortunately, we find it too easy to make our will God’s will with the result that we frequently justify rebellion against the government. People don’t see us submitting to God but rather as taking care of ourselves. I think the real issue is that we aren’t living with a constant attitude of worship, of submission to God. Instead, we compartmentalize worship to a brief period when we gather with other believers.
Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. (Romans 13:14 NLT)
Paul ends this chapter with an instruction which should counter that. He tells us to clothe ourselves with Jesus. He doesn’t tell us to put on Jesus one day and take Him off the next. When we made the decision to be baptized, we chose to have the presence of God live in us as the Holy Spirit. With God dwelling in us Paul tells us that we should also choose to wear Jesus on us all the time. We do this to counter our tendency to think about ourselves. Indulging our evil desires is worship of self. Paul’s encouragement to us is to continually worship God. We do this when we are aware of His presence and choose to submit to His will.
For my grandchildren:
Put on Jesus and never take Him off.
Check out mygrandmatime for more Family Bible Activities on the book of Romans.