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I look forward to Paul’s next letters to the Romans, each day. Here’s Romans 13 with a short reflection.
New International Version (NIV)
Submission to Governing Authorities
13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For 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 you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Love Fulfills the Law
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
The Day Is Near
11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The 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.13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
I’m not going to dwell on the first section, where Paul talks about obeying the government. Caesar had Paul killed and that wouldn’t have happened if Paul’s message was all about obedience to civil authorities. I believe Paul’s words were not for the secular, but for the followers of Christ. He was beheaded for promoting a rival government known as the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, while Christians are citizens of Heaven and must first obey God, at the same time, we should obey earthly governments. We are responsible to submit to the laws of the country in which we live.
Now, onto the fun stuff! Scroll up and read the last part again. Romans 13: 11-14 is so appropriate for a day that’s been feared to be the “last day on earth.” To this, I say: Whatever (with an eye-roll). I mean, really, what’s all this hoopla? Are we so silly that we tremble at these predictions? We should, every day, be trembling while working out our salvation with God. (Philippians 2:12). Instead of worrying about the last day of earth, we should be thinking: “…It is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11, NKJV).
So, wake up! Have you looked around? Do you not see that death can happen at any time, to anyone. A small child reading a book in her elementary school classroom. A teenager speeding on the highway. People die of cancer every day, regardless of their age. Accidents happen. There’s no guarantee how many days we will be given. We are not immortal beings, here on Earth forever. So, I say, “Wake up!” And realize that our earthly life can and will end any time. And we don’t always get a warning.
So, though we still have some hours left to the “end of the world day,” day, if the world doesn’t end today, our lives could end tomorrow. So a more important question than, “when?” is, “Are we ready?”
Looking forward to Christmas and Romans 14, and if it tomorrow doesn’t happen for me or the world, then looking forward to seeing you all on the other side!