Ronald Reagan – The Gipper – used to say that the 9 most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘we’re from the government and we’re here to help’.
The idea behind him saying this was that even in a first world country like the USA of the 1980’s, the State is more than capable – and more than likely – of getting in the way of helping any of its citizens. I’m sure its a sentiment as valid today as it was when he said it.
In the concluding verses of Romans 12, Paul writes that we are not to repay evil for evil.
As emotionally satisfying as it may be to indulge in vigilantism, whether real or imagined, we should trust that the Judge will ultimately make all things right.
As Christians, Paul writes, we are to overcome evil with good. Totally counter-intuitive. How are we to ‘win’ by having manners and not condescending ourselves to the level of our schoolyard bully? Playing fair in the age of cancel culture and mass media’s ability to ruin reputations for holding the incorrect opinion?
We submit ourselves to God and he will sort things out, including schoolyard bullies and the host of people who debase themselves by deliberately hurting others. I’ve read about it in the Scriptures but I’ve never seen God angry with my own eyes, all four of ‘em. That would be some thing to actually see.
A start of my reading of Romans 13 coincided with the court appearance in Senekal of the alleged killers of the 21 year old Free State farm manager, Brendin Horner. The particulars of what happened to him are something I’ve read about but don’t wish to re-read. My heart is broken enough. It’s an injustice and one of many in this country, and unfortunately I have no faith in the legal system.
We’re to trust God and not pay back evil, but then Paul writes that we are also to be subject to and respect the governing authorities.
Romans 13 stands at odds with my natural inclination (look up Gadsden flag and the picture will be clear). Paul had to contend with the cruel maniac that was Rome and happily I have not tasted blood from a Roman fist. In many ways my experience with government has been far more benign than Paul’s.
However this passage make me uncomfortable. I like the way John Piper puts it into perspective however:
Without government, there would be anarchy, which would be worse.
So, we’re stuck with the government we have for the time being. They are His servants, or at least they are meant to be.
Scripture instructs us to pray for those in authority. This goes against my nature as a political being, however it is what Scripture instructs me to do:
I have to walk a fine line between praying as I’m instructed and being genuine and sincere in what I’m praying for.
I don’t trust government’s motives for lockdown regulations, I don’t think government has any feeling one way or another about anyone’s personal freedoms, my common sense tells me that their self-interest and power come way before any consideration of the public good on any continuum.
And yet God has seen fit to let them exercise authority in this time and place.