Read Romans 13:1-14
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For 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 he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (NIV)
We see in this passage from Paul that he has moved to addressing how should a Christian live. He begins with citizenship. This is consistent with other sections of Scripture where Peter also encourages the believers to be obedient to their government. This has always seemed strange to many, but for the early Christians, this was about how they loved others. And Paul connects this duty to love with being a good citizen.
These were not kind people that were in power. But Paul and the other disciples knew that love conquers so much more than fighting. Being a good person makes it hard for people to say bad things about you. And this is what we as a church need to remember in a time where so much of society and government is against the church and its beliefs. But if a church gives of itself as we do here in Satellite Beach, then it is hard for the community to say negative things about the church. We need to always give of ourselves and that includes our obedience to government including paying taxes.
Paul transitions with this idea of giving what is due to others. He makes this great statement that the only debt we should never be able to fulfill is the continuing debt to love one another. No matter how much we love, there is always more love to give. He sums up the commandments that deal with how we act with others by reminding us that “love does no harm.” What a powerful way to look at the way we live.
He closes this section with an admonition that the way we live is not about gratifying ourselves, but serving as Christ has served. We are to clothe ourselves with the grace of Christ with should cause us to give of ourselves as Christ gave of himself.
How do you see yourself loving other people? What are your views as to being an obedient citizen? And what are the consequences to society when we as Christians are rebellious? Loving others, especially those we disagree with can be hard, so how do you overcome that problem.
Blessings and Peace