Romans 13 is a short chapter, and I don’t have a lot to say about it, however there are some points that I would like to make. The chapter breaks up nicely into to section, each on a different topic. The first is about respecting government.
This is a tricky topic. If you look at countries like the USA or UK, there are usually two major political parties, and most people usually love one party, and therefore have strong feeling against the rival party. This means that if the party that we support gets in power, we’re happy, otherwise we constantly criticise. This is particularly noticeable in the USA, I see so many people with strong views for a particular party, and anything that the opposing party does, is wrong. In the UK, we tend to criticise whoever is in power, even if we voted for them. Do we respect our government? Do we submit to their authority? I have my favourite party, however I have to say, that whoever gets in power (in the UK) it can not get any worse than the party currently in power in my country of birth. I was born in South Africa, and the ruling party there is completely incompetent, in fact that is one of the reasons why my wife and I left the country. This scripture says that we need to respect the authority, and I believe that we need to be praying for them, rather than speaking against them. I used to pray for the ANC, and now when it comes to elections, I pray for the government, regardless of who is in power. It is easier now in the UK, but even in South Africa or other countries with destructive parties in charge, pray for the government.
The second part of the chapter is talking about loving our neighbours. How do we deal with one another? I’m going to let you in on a small secret here, I am not a people person. I have no issue with getting up in church and sharing a word from God, I have no issue preaching either (although I don’t do it often). I go to business networking meetings and I have no issue talking to people, if you saw me in any of these settings, you would have no idea that I struggle with crowds. I am happy with a one to one situation, and I love individual people and want to see them set free. When it comes to crowds of people that I don’t know, I really struggle. My wife and I went to IKEA the other day, and we walked through with all of the other customers. We were not in there for long, and I was not a happy person by the end of it. I couldn’t wait to get out. I had to almost limit my surroundings to immediately around me, whenever I realised how many people were there, and that they were all sitting on the furniture and moving stuff around. I like structure, order, rules and organisation. That is why I have my businesses. Everyone running around IKEA is anything but that. Now does this mean that I don’t love people? No. I just have to realise how I function and try and change what I need to. This passage is not talking about how we handle crowds, it is talking about how we relate to people in our sphere of influence. You could probably argue that I wasn’t being a witness while in IKEA, and although I didn’t do anything ‘wrong’, I wasn’t open to how God may have used me to minister to someone. This is why we are all wired differently, maybe you would be better at picking up on those things in IKEA, but maybe I’m better in other circumstances. We have an obligation to love one another, let’s find ways to do that.
The last passage is here word for word, it is pretty clear and a nice set of instructions. This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armour of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.