Romans 13:1-2 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.
Yes, this is most certainly true. And yet.
Acts 5:27-29 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.”
In the last week many Christians have been trying to figure out what exactly the truth is regarding the reports that the military has received council about using various forms of punishment against Christians who proselytize others while serving. Molle Hemmingway, an LCMS member, and others have tried to sort out the facts and make sure that truth and not speculation reigns in this discussion.
But here is my question. When it comes to speaking the truth of Jesus to others, we are going to do it regardless of what the government says, right? This is the very moment that faith requires disobedience, isn’t it? We will submit yes, but only until they tell us to shut up about Jesus.
The church especially in the last half century really seems to have bought into the idea that we must fall in line in a way that offends no one, especially not the government. This despite the fact that the Lord made clear his message is inherently offensive to those who do not believe.
We see people trying to avoid offense in congregations where all sorts of sin goes unchecked in the hopes that not speaking the truth in one moment will lead to an opportunity to speak it in another. We don’t want to ruffle feathers. We see it is the mission fields where we almost always simply follow the laws of the countries we work in even when that means being silent about Jesus as we do mercy work. We see it is many other ways as well.
Part of the discussion this week has further given the sad impression that we will yield to the authorities when it comes to speaking of Jesus. Some posts seem to basically ask the government to just tell us what is allowed. Even Molle in her otherwise excellent piece asks, “What guarantees are in place for people not wanting to be court-martialed?” It suggests that if the line is clear, we will not cross it.
Rather we must simply do what the Jesus have given us to do and take what comes. In this way we remind the authorities that their authority is not limitless. All kings and rulers still answer to the King. So do we.
Giving the impression that we will follow their every command will only hasten the pace at which they criminalize certain parts of our confession. Oh yes, we will submit to anything until they require us to be silent about Jesus. Then we will speak and take what comes.
I don’t want to end up in jail for preaching Jesus. I rather like my freedom. But if it comes down to it, I am prepared to go to jail rather than be silent about Him.
John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."