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Friends, we need to calm down the rhetoric

My morning devotions found me in Romans 13 this week. These are timely words from Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit:

Let 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. 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.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 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.

As I meditated on these words, sat on them, stewed on them, on and on… here’s what I’m trying to work on.

  • The Evangelical hermeneutic is very simple. (How we read and interpret the Bible) We take the Bible at face value, unless the author makes it clear to do otherwise. This passage is plain talk, intended to be taken at face value by its recipients.
  • Paul was writing to Roman citizens… people whose government killed Christians for sport.
  • Paul didn’t give readers an out clause. Paul affirmed that Christians needed to respect and honor the emperor of Rome.
  • Paul doesn’t give Christians permission to publicly disrespect a leader, even one they disagree with vehemently. Instead he says the opposite. T

The way I see it, it’s totally fine to be engaged in politics. Actually, I think it’s healthy to ask people to be more engaged and understand what’s going on. But lets be sure not to disqualify ourselves from ministry by expressing our political opinion in a way which Paul would label as sinful. 

While the political parties are in full freak-out mode, wouldn’t it be great if level headed Christian leaders modeled Paul’s way of civic engagement?

Don’t disengage. But help people engage in more healthy ways.

8 Responses to Friends, we need to calm down the rhetoric

  1. The Church State Guy September 14, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    Amen and Amen! Even biblical civil disobedience (the MLK kind) is done civilly. Also remember that Paul died at the hands of the State for his “crimes”, as did all the other apostles. And they do not speak evil words against them.

    Then again, John’s Revelation seemed to call Rome a beast… so there might be room for harsh words when the State is on an all-out war against God. I believe Bohnhoeffer had some pretty harsh words for Hitler for example. So while I agree, and I think this is a message everyone needs in our election cycle now, I think there are biblical exceptions as well — by they are accompanied by extraordinary circumstances. Thanks Adam!

    • Adam McLane September 14, 2012 at 7:49 am #

      Some would argue that John was on Patmos because he disrespected the emperor. If that’s the case, you could continue to argue that he had disqualified himself, physically, from ministry.

      On both sides of the current presidential election folks, even Christian “leaders” who disagree with a policy use that as an excuse for the most vile attacks on a persons character. IMO- that’s the stuff we need to call out. It’s public sin in the name of Jesus and clearly against biblical leadership.

  2. Tony Myles September 14, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    This is such a great go-to passage for this season. My personal fav is what I believe is the most simultaneously political/anti-political verse in Jesus’ ministry:

    Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him. (Mark 12:17)

    Meanwhile the majority of Christians who read this will say, “Huh? Oh yeah. Righto, Jesus!” Then return back to posting even more snarky images and sarcastic links on Facebook and Twitter.

    Thanks for propping this up.

  3. Ben Irwin September 14, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Hey Adam – have you seen this? http://ElectionDayCommunion.org

    • Adam McLane September 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      I haven’t seen that. Very cool stuff.

  4. MattReeve September 14, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Nicely said Paul!! And Adam, Amen! One of the reasons I hate election time is so many “Christians” give Christ and His Bride a black eye. Thanks for posting this!
    Continue to live The Stronger Life!

  5. Brandon Pachey September 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    EXACTLY!

  6. Adam Wormann September 15, 2012 at 4:32 am #

    Well said Adam. Thanks.

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