Be Subject to Governing Authorities

If they could do it under Rome ...

Romans 13:1–4 (ESV)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

I can see Paul writing this under our current system of government, but under a Roman emperor? How on Earth could Paul have written these words back then? Roman emperors were anything but God's servant for your good.

Or so they thought. Looking back 2000 years, we can see God’s agenda and how the Roman Emperors facilitated it. Their torture of the early Christians is in the history books, providing a wealth of references for the events of that time, and certifying the sincerity of the martyrs.

No other religion has a treasure like that.

We should always pray for our leaders. Sometimes we agree with their choices; sometimes we don’t. But what are the chances that we understand God’s agenda anyway?

How arrogant it would be to just pray that our leaders conform to our will. Pray for God to bless them and lead them to do the right thing. Include state and local officials too.

And this doesn’t just apply to our own leaders. Our disappointment with our government officials is nothing compared to what we think of some of the leaders in other countries or at other times in history. But each one of them is God's minister too.

Which brings us to a tough point. We should pray for the persecuted church regularly, but what about their persecutors? Should we pray for them?

Of course.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” — Matthew 5:44 (ESV)

If we’re supposed to pray for those who persecute us, it goes without saying that we should pray for those who persecute other Christians. Those of us who are not suffering persecution are not overwhelmed (physically and emotionally) by crises. We have more time and clearer heads with which to pray.

This is a great duty. Prayer matters. We are warriors in a great war, and we need to pull our weight.

Find some time to pray for the persecuted church—and for their persecutors.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.