Being a Christian is Counter-cultural (Romans 13)

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In today’s chapter, Paul seems to question the way both the Jews and Gentiles run their lives. Many of these comments he makes, still hold relevance in our lives today. When you read the Bible, it is pretty amazing how many times life really hasn’t changed that much since Jesus’ day, and even before.

The first comment that he makes, that is totally counter-cultural is to have respect for authority (especially government authority). “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” (13:1 NLT). I wrote a little bit on following authority back in July. But it still holds true today. But it goes beyond just submitting. We have to show respect. We’re almost a year away from the last election, and people today still get pretty nasty over the winner or loser. It’s true that we can disagree with whatever policies or laws are made, but that doesn’t give us the right to name call or speak negatively. As a Christian, I believe that it is our duty to show right respect and submit to authority without any complaints. It is the world’s job to complain, not ours.

Paul goes on to call government “God’s servants”. They are charged with upholding the peace here on earth. God handles the eternal justice, but government is told to handle physical punishments. Paul said in the last chapter, “Don’t think you are better than you really are.” (12:3 NLT). If we were given the gifts and abilities to participate in government, that’s where we would be. Being in government is a special call, and not everyone can do it. But since we disagree does not meant that we are better than “God’s servants”, so don’t act like you are. Do the counter-cultural thing and accept governments role over you. Thank goodness we have the right to vote in the United States. That gives us the ability to voice our opinion. If you aren’t fond of the government, vote to change it. Otherwise, we must follow it’s lead (provided it doesn’t conflict with the way of God).

The second counter-cultural point that spoke to me in this chapter comes towards the end. In today’s world, along with the culture of Rome during the time of Paul’s writing, a party culture seems to reign supreme (especially for my age group). Nobody seems to think there is anything wrong with going to parties all weekend and getting drunk. Sexual promiscuity is a big issue as well. It isn’t a problem for people to fight with others over something simple or a misunderstanding. And there is a “keeping up with the Jones'” mentality among most people. Yet Paul writes, “Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.” (13:13 NLT). The world tells us that behaving this way is some how wrong, and the word “prude” gets thrown around. But what if Christians lived this way, and tried to help people see the error in their ways. The world would probably become a better place, and some of our problems might not be issues any more.

The things that God asks us to do, don’t always feel like big things. But when we think about what our friends, family, and the rest of the wold choose to do because “everyone else does it”, we begin to see how counter-cultural this way of life really is. So my friends, I encourage to know that you are not alone. We all have these issues to fight against, and God wants us to do it. This way we prove that we are His, and not the world’s. “So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.” (13:12 NLT). It will be hard, but God is there for you, to help you remain His and go against culture.

Previous Chapters

Following Authority

 

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So today we continue to take a look at the life of King David, but today we start in 2 Samuel! I thought I would have to read a little bit for today’s post, but honestly it didn’t take me long at all.

2 Samuel opens with King David just after Saul’s death. He is unaware of what has happened, but an Amalekite comes to him covered in ash and mourning. When asked what has happened, the Amalekite tells David that Saul and Jonathan both died in battle. David’s immediate reaction is mourning. I find this very curious because of the life David has been forced to live since Saul was hunting after him. Honestly, I’m aware that the idea of a king is foreign to me since I am an American and we haven’t had a king in 237 years. Yet still, his reaction is interesting to me.

Not only is David mourning the death of the king, but also family. If you remember, David’s first wife is Saul’s daughter. Jonathan is not only David’s brother-in-law, but also his best friend. So David gets hit pretty hard from the news of these deaths.

What does this mean for us today you may be asking?

At first glace I would say nothing, but the thought that struck me was about the death of the king. For David, he had gave his allegiance to his king no matter what. This even applies to the fact that David is hiding from Saul for his life. It’s this allegiance that makes me say that a point to becoming the Heart Man is to submit to the authorities over you. Jesus spoke to this many times, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17 NASB) “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above;…” (John 19:11 NASB). Even the entire 13th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans is about being subjects of the government.

I have heard many times people complaining about the things our government is doing, and who is the President, or even insulting the intelligence of the President. To be after God’s own heart we must realize that God has placed these people into positions of authority for a reason. I believe that the worst case of “political warfare” was during this last election season. It was so bad that I feel that people stop paying attention just to get away from it all (I know my wife did).

I guess what I’m trying to say is, that as Christians we should be supportive of our government, not to demean it and call people names (that’s not even Christian practice in the first place!). Please don’t read this wrong, I’m not saying that we have to support everything Obama says, and I’m not saying that I wish Romney had won. What I’m saying is that the right people are in power because God allowed them to be. We are to be supportive of our government until it begins to directly oppose biblical law. If you have trouble remembering what that is I would direct you to look up Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:7-21.

Now I know that this might cause some controversy because of some recent events. This post isn’t meant to profess one side or the other. What I’m trying to stress is that claiming anything negatively of people who have authority over you is not very Christian. I’m sorry if this brings up any concerns for you, but I’m trying my hardest not to be controversial. This blog is meant to glorify God, not to be a battlefield over current events!

So my encouragement to you is to think about what you say about your authority figures. I talked a lot about government, but this could easily apply to your boss, teacher, or any other type of authority. As Christians we should pray for the people with authority over us, just as we should pray for those who we have authority over. So think about the way you act and talk about authority. Because ultimately the way you view and act towards authority is the way to feel and act towards God. We must give him honor, so authority must be honored as well.