Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Next Thursday our country celebrates its independence. On July 4, 1776, the founding fathers of the United States declared independence from Great Britain.
Several years of war followed. Finally, in 1781, British troops led by Cornwallis at Yorktown were defeated by the American Continental Army led by George Washington. This led the British to pursue negotiations for peace. Finally, in 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally ending the Revolutionary War.
Today, June 28, 2019, is the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Versailles Treaty, formally ending World War I.
Both treaties attempted to bring about peace. At the time, many thought the Versailles Treaty ended “the war to end all wars”. History shows that the Versailles Treaty failed miserably and even planted seeds for World War II.
Governments attempt to keep the peace many times. Yet, they are also the vehicle for many wars and human tragedy.
The Bible teaches that God has a limited use for government. Its purpose is to keep the peace, so to speak. Its purpose is to protect the people who live within the government’s borders.
That’s why Paul encourages the Christian to submit to government authority. That does not mean to allow the government to oppress the people. It means to honor the government’s purpose of providing protection for its people.
As we celebrate Independence Day in various ways (my spouse and I are going to an A’s game), we remember the gift God has given us in this United States as we live mostly in peace.
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California