CALM, QUALIFIED RESPECT
Our series “Received Righteousness” following the book of Romans continues. We enter into the second “half” of Romans with chapter 12. It begins with the beautiful phrase: in view of God’s mercy… The previous chapters have made clear the core message of the gospel. God’s mercy has been put on full display. Now the emphasis shifts to our response. In view of God’s mercy how shall we then live? In Romans 12 we have described new kingdom ways in which we are to relate to God, friends and enemies. Here in chapter 13 how we are to relate to governing authorities is the focus. Tim Keller in his commentary on Romans summarizes the relationship of Christian to State as “calm, qualified respect.” First, respect. We should respect our governing authorities out of honor for God who establishes them. Jesus told Pilate in John 19… “Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Second, this respect is always calm. Three times in this passage governing authorities are called “God’s servants.” This means though governments can seem to be going against God’s wishes as God’s servants they cannot ultimately threaten God’s overarching plan and will. God will have the last say. Third, this calm respect is always qualified. The principle “Give everyone what you owe him” (Romans 13:7) is a restatement of the words of Jesus: Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s (Matthew 22:21.) Only God is to receive unqualified obedience. Caesar may receive our taxes but God alone receives our worship.