You know, I have been exposed to the Bible since before I could read, my dad having read to me and my sister various parts and pieces since we were infants. And while I am grateful for the wisdom and the stories from many parts of the Bible, some specific parts you have quoted from Romans make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.
In essence, what those passages seem to be saying is that even if you live under a despotic, tyrannical regime, be a model citizen and do your best to get along by being compliant and subservient to the despots and tyrants.
If taken literally, which is not always a good idea with the Bible, then this country would have never formed, because Washington would have been trying to feed and build campfires for the Redcoats at Valley Forge rather than fighting them.
Maybe I am missing something, and I am willing to let the Lord have vengeance rather than trying to take my own, but those passages still make no sense to me in any context relating to tyrannical, evil leaders and government.
At what point should living under the iron fist of a tyrant become untenable to me and cause me to take matters into my own hands versus waiting for God to sort it out? God didn’t come to the rescue of the hundreds of millions who died in the past century at the hands of their own governments. At least not in this earthly plane. And I am disinclined to sit around being a model citizen while every right, supposedly granted me by God, is subverted and subsumed by power-lusting, valueless, amoral men.
Jesus was forceful in his opposition to tyranny, whether of the religious or the political establishments. He scourged the temple authorities with a whip and denied the authority of Caesar’s government to Pilate’s face. His murder was forced by his noncompliance. He drew out the good in men’s hearts with his love and forced the evil in men’s hearts into the open with his uncompromising stand against evil.
He was, in a word, fearless. The lesson of Jesus is the courage of conviction.
First, I believe that the Spirit of God intimately changes the hearts of men. The Spirit inspires men to act in certain fashions. For example, the Holy Spirit can move men's hearts to accomplish certain tasks.
As noted, I am still wrestling with all this, but I am coming to the conclusion that as Christians we MUST act if we have the resources to do so.
If I have a million dollars and see a financial need that I can meet, I am called to be generous and meet that need. Similarly, if I have some amount of liberty coupled with defensive resources and some financial capacity, I believe I am called upon to use my resources to repel evil and resist it's influence. In this manner, I am being “generous” with what God has entrusted me with by using it as a form of assistance to others by preserving liberty.
In Paul's day many (not all) of the Christians were very poor and had very little political power (under the thumb of Roman rule) and very, very little cultural influence at the time. Therefore, I believe Paul was telling them how to live with the resources that God had given to them at that time.
If we have a lot of resources (money, cultural influence, the ability to defend ourselves, etc.) then we have a general call to use all of our resources in a generous and sacrificial manner. So, for me, I don't think we are called to lay down in the street to be run over by a tyrannical government — especially if we have the means and resources to resist — as this represents a means of living generously and sacrificially for others.
We must always be kind and respectful, but evil is not from God. He may allow it via the free will of men, but it is not His desire and we CAN and MUST resist that evil. And evil includes those who would seek to enslave us by taking away our God-given liberties!
Thanks for a great post. I was blown away by its insightfulness.
Everything in prophesy that happened, happened literally. It did not happen spiritually. Christ came in person. He will come again in person. If you are not understanding Romans, get back into the Book and study some more. It will come to you. The Bible has made these times completely crystal clear. No doubts about it. It tells exactly what these times are going to be like. It tells of the coming one world government, and those predictions were made thousands of years ago, not last week. And TODAY they are happening. Read Romans 1, and check out what it says this world would be like in these last days. Completely and utterly correct and direct on point. No other Book, of any religion, speaks of this type stuff and it has all come true. The Bible is the Word of God. Anyone that does not believe that and does not accept Jesus Christ as Savior, will be reminded of that at the great white throne of judgment. Study your Bible my friend. It will come too you and it will make sense. Compare scripture with scripture. Reading the Bible straight through, it does not make sense. But, if you study it, comparing one with another, it makes perfect sense. Get a Strong’s concordance. It will help doing the scripture comparing.