â€œRomans 13:1â€“7 must be understood in the context of the volatile relationship that the Jewsâ€”as well as the early churchâ€”had under the oppressive rule of Rome. Remember that Paul himself was charged with crimes by the state, beaten multiple times, jailed, and eventually executed by Rome. So to see Paul as a cheerleader for the goodness of the Roman imperial state under Nero is to miss the volatile and hostile historical reality of Paulâ€™s situation at the time. We thus see in Romans 12â€“13 a snapshot of Paulâ€™s attempt to navigate the church in Rome through a volatile and dangerous relationship within a violent regimeâ€”modeling the way of enemy love, rather than the way of retaliation. Taking Romans 12 and 13 together, Paulâ€™s counsel to the church in Rome is: Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world (Ro 12:2), but do not commit an act of open insurrection that will result in bringing down the crushing arm of the Roman state either. In other words, Paul is telling the church in Rome to resist via the means of overcoming evil with good, not through the means of retaliation and insurrectionâ€”a way he knows will lead to mass bloodshed.â€Let me be as clear as I can. I denounce our government’s policy of separating families and I cringe at being a part of a nation that thinks this is normal behavior. I understand the problem they are trying to solve, but targeting children to solve a problem with adults is a deplorableÂ political strategy. If you want Biblical precedents for a state policy of oppressing children to solve a problem, remember Pharoah’s economic problem in Egypt or King Herod’s political problem in Israel. Moses emerged from the first example and Jesus emerged from the second. God was on the side of the oppressed and transformed everything as a result. I can promise you that this policy of hurting children to solve a problem breaks the heart of Christ (who is far less concerned with our American standard of life than we are). It should break all of our hearts as well. These are the moments that later make it into history books that future generations will read about and wonder: where was the Church? Let us remember the harsh words of Jesus on this topic in Matthew 25:41-45:
“Then he will say to those on his left, â€˜Depart from me,Â you who are cursed, into the eternal fireÂ prepared for the devil and his angels.Â For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,Â I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.â€™Â â€œThey also will answer, â€˜Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?â€™Â â€œHe will reply, â€˜Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.â€™It wasn’t a one-time event when Jesus had words like this to say. In fact, He seemed pretty passionate about caring for children. “If anyone causes one of these little onesâ€”those who believe in meâ€”to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). May we rise up as the Church and give a voice to the voiceless in the name of Jesus. Following the example of the Hebrew midwives who ignored Pharoah’s instructions or the Magi who deceived Herod, what if Christians today lived out a Christlike response for our moment? May we do for the least of these what we would want to be done for us. The Gospel demands it of us. I would encourage you to pray about how you can get involved in living out the Gospel for those affected by this policy. This is a chance for Christians to live out what it means to be pro-life instead of only being anti-abortion. To give you a few ideas, you can volunteer personally, donate money to the organizations looking to fight this, or contact your local representatives. Find out who represents you (click here) and if you need a suggestion for what to say, here’s an idea for a script (link). Or click here to join a protest near you.
“May we rise up as the Church and give a voice to the voiceless in the name of Jesus.”Click to tweet
Do You Want to Read the Bible Without Falling Behind?
Sign up your email and I’ll send you a PDF to download and use my custom-made reading plan system. There’s no way to fall behind on this system and every day will be different no matter how long you use it!
I’ll send future content directly to your inbox AND you can dive into the Bible like never before.