January 17, 2008 • By Ed Wrather
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. - Romans 13:1-5.
In Hempstead, New York a strange thing occurred. When police officers tried to stop a car for committing a traffic violation the driver tried to out run the officers. Now, that is not that unusual but read on. The man did stop though after having an accident and then he tried to out run officers on foot. The man even left his two-year-old son in the car but thankfully, the boy was not injured. Here is the strange thing, the man was not in possession of any alcohol or illegal substances and did not have a criminal record. Police are puzzled by the actions of this individual.
Can you imagine being afraid, so afraid of being stopped for even a minor traffic offense that you have to try to run away leaving your two-year-old child behind? What a sad way to live! Herein we find the benefit of living in accordance with the dictates of the government of the country where we reside. The apostle Paul writes, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.” Living an upright life according to the laws of the land pays great benefits. The benefits include a lack of fear when a police vehicle or an officer comes near, and a sense of peace knowing you have not committed some criminal act that would subject you to sudden arrest and imprisonment.
The Roman Empire during the time of Christ and of the early church was at times very brutal. However, it was an institution that God allowed to exist as it brought stability to the known world. That stability provided for a relative ease of travel and communication. The ease of travel and communication facilitated the spread of the Gospel through the known world and beyond. The governments of our time can also work to our benefit and benefit the spread of the Gospel by preventing chaos and uncertainty thereby providing stability.
Fear is a terrible thing, which strikes at the very heart of a person. But we do not have to live in fear of our governmental officials. We can live upright lives obeying the laws of the land (So long as those laws are not in clear contradiction with the Word of God.) and by doing so eliminate that source of fear from our lives.