Dear Union family,
Hopefully you are warm, safe and enjoying the interruption that this snowfall has brought. Though it has stopped snowing for the time being Studio 3, Union’s servant leadership, has decided to cancel our gathering as a community tomorrow at 415 Westlake. We will miss our time together but do not want to put anyone in harms way attempting to meet up.
That is not to say worship is being cancelled—that can happen wherever you are, be it playing in the snow, taking a walk, enjoying a cup of tea, resting around your home—worship is our recognition o,f and living in response to God’s character so blessings on your delighting in Christ wherever you are!
If you want to stay on track with our walk-through Romans here is a bit of a guide to use on your own or with others…
Scrunch your shoulders up tight for a few seconds and then relax them exhaling well at the same time.
Stay silent and breathe in deeply and exhale slowly a few times.
Turn your cupped palms upward and let whatever off the mark thoughts, actions or omissions that are weighing you down move into them.
Turn your palms over and let all that is in them fall into Jesus’ hands noting how they disappear as they touch the marks on his crucified hands.
Offer a prayer of thanks and praise.
Read Romans 13:1-10
3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.5Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing.
7Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. 8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
1. What catches your interest?
Paul’s words about government are the ideal. Knowing Jesus was crucified by the Romans, having come up against less than just tribunals himself and currently aware of Nero’s rise, Paul knows that governments are often far from what they are intended to be by God. Nonetheless, this is a statement of God’s sovereignty over all things. Not God’s manipulation of all things but affirmation that governments are ordained by God to promote and reward good and punish and deal with lawlessness.
All governments are human and therefore broken so at what point is civil disobedience appropriate?
This teaching comes in the middle of calls to love and it will be helpful to let those verses inform our government interaction and political discourse. Paul’s words here remind us that though in the US there is, by the constitution, separation of church and state, for the follower of Christ this does not give us permission to leave our faith behind as we discern our response to the government nor our treatment of people with different views.
As followers of Christ knowing that Christ is above all governments and philosophies (that Jesus is neither a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Socialist…) how are we to approach these divisive times as people of faith? (E.G. How does this affect how we talk, think and act about issues, interact with others, treat government officials and leaders?)
4. How do these words of Paul affect the way you perceive government? “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” How does this inform your prayer this week?
Take some time to pray to the God who is above all institutions and sources of power.