Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK EIGHT
ORBIT – DAY THIRTY SIX
Hello and welcome to another week of Orbit. If you’re just joining us for the first time, Orbit is a daily Bible reading, with some thoughts to help you put it into practice in your life. At the moment we’re looking at the life and letters of Paul, because he was someone who knew what it looked like to follow Jesus in difficult times and situations. He seems like a good example to follow right now.
BIBLE READING: Romans 13: 1-5
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. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 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. 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. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
Far be it from me to get political on a devotional reflection, but we don’t always agree with our leaders. Some of us even feel pretty strongly about the decisions they make – and particularly in recent years it has felt like political division all over the world has only deepened. It has also felt like the right thing at times to speak out against governing authorities when they appear to be prioritising profit over people, or taking a stance which seems very clearly to contravene God’s way.
With that in mind then, this is a difficult passage from Paul. He tells the Roman church not to incite rebellion, but to submit to the governing authorities. He even goes so far as to say that the authorities have been established by God – and that can feel like a difficult idea to swallow when we think about some of the leaders who have taken power around the world lately.
Yet try to read this from the perspective of the church in Rome. The Christians there are a heavily-persecuted group, and ruled over by the terrifying might of an empire which has conquered the world. It must have felt even more controversial to hear Paul saying that the Christians should submit to those authorities; that those rulers has been established by God. But that’s exactly what Paul writes.
Paul’s point is that God is a God of order. He has allowed systems and structures to be established on Earth like democracy, and these are not bad things in themselves. Sometimes rulers will bring corruption or even evil to these positions of power and abuse them, but ultimately other things come against them; over time the wrongs are always put right because order eventually beats chaos. In the moment, we can find submission to authority hard, but in the long-term it makes sense. Our calling is to be consistent – people of love, people who do good – even when the system around us is taking a while to catch up.
Does that mean we shouldn’t engage in politics at all? Of course not – we absolutely should – we must pray for our leaders, and some of us should even enter politics to fight for what is good. But we must be people of order and consistency, not chaos – and sometimes that means holding on to hope that good will always win in the long term, instead of trying to force change now.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord God, we thank you for our Government and our other leaders. We pray for them especially at this difficult time, that you will lift them up, resource them with everything they need, and draw them to yourself. We pray that our leaders would listen to you, and do things your way. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Today we’re going to ask you to do something which might feel difficult, and not like your idea of fun. But see if you can persevere with it. There are two parts to this challenge: first, take some time to read a bit of national or international news, thinking particularly about world leaders and governments. Ask yourself: what is going on at the moment? What might be on God’s heart in those places? Second, spend some time praying about these situations. This is called intercessory prayer, and despite that slightly weird word, it’s something the Bible specifically asks us to do. Pray that God will lift up good leaders, and restore order where there is chaos.
If you want to get in touch, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!