Key verse: Romans 13:1
Big idea: Citizens of heaven should live in a way worthy of the gospel on earth.
When I was a kid, getting on a bus to church camp, our pastor would always give us a speech before we left. It had the same basic points every year, and one that has always stood out to me was that when we were out, we were representing God, our families and our church. We did not exist as private, isolated individuals, who could do whatever we wanted without affecting anyone else. Unfortunately, too many people did not hear this lesson as children or failed to remember it. We are ambassadors in this world and everything we do represents our King.
In Romans 13, Paul continues his explanation of how Christians ought to offer themselves as living sacrifices. How should we respond to the government? Paul was in prison under the regime of a wicked Roman emperor, who killed with impunity and valued personal loyalty above integrity. How can God's people respond to a government like that? Paul's response is somewhat shocking. They should be subject to those authorities, because they are put in place by God. Our obedience to these authorities is obedience to God, and provides us with credibility when we share the gospel.
We must be quick to fulfill all of our obligations (Romans 13:8), except the obligation to love. The debt of love is the one that we can never repay, so we must follow that obligation every day. Love is the overriding commandment which drives all others. Love does no harm to others and does not ask the question "how far can I go?" Love looks for the chance to serve. When we leave no foothold for our sin and simply love in every circumstance, we are truly representatives of the King.
Discussion idea: If the governments of the world are subsidiaries of God's government, does that imply any limits on when they should be obeyed? What should be do if the order of a human government contradicts the Bible?
Prayer focus: Pray that God would help you to see yourself as His representative of love in your normal life.