Let us look at the range of logical possibilities: attack always > resist mostly > tolerate > support mostly > obey always.
One biblical text often quoted to support the position of “obey always” is Romans 13:1-7.
Before 13:1-7 comes the invitation to love even our enemies. After it, in 13:8, comes this invitation: Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. In other words, Paul’s words about governing authorities come sandwiched between words inviting us to love everyone unconditionally just as Jesus loves us (p. 197).
Paul’s point: we should love our enemies even if they represent an oppressive political authority and do terrible acts like unjustly whipping Paul and, much worse, crucifying Jesus. No one said witnessing to Jesus, in response to frightfully Olympian authorities, was going to be easy.
Vernard adds that Paul’s difficult point here is consistent with other New Testament texts. Speaking against Christians suing one another in Olympian courts, Paul says, Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? (1 Corinthians 6:7b). Even from his cross, Jesus said, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This was consistent with his earlier words concerning hurtful people: “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and…if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile” (Matthew 5:39, 41).
We witness to the unconditional love of Jesus, Paul tells us, when we give others things like taxes, revenue, respect, and honor even when they don’t deserve it. If we don’t love in this way, then we’re just like every other Olympian: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:43).
We might say that Jesus calls our Christian personality to respond creatively by appealing to the Christian personalities of all governing authorities. Jesus likes us to do this rather than abandoning our Christian personality and responding to their Olympian personalities with our own. Do not be overcome by [Olympian] evil but overcome [Olympian] evil with [Christian] good.
Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci.
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