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Posts Tagged ‘Romans 13’

I don't know how this cartoon fits into my article but I thought it was funny!

With that salacious title, I have your attention and you already know it’s not about breaking the 6th commandment, or something about the marital bed.  I think it is fair to say that in the Scriptures, God’s  Word this is a correct equation:

Loving=serving

and

Serving=loving

The equations above are apropos for 2 of the important Biblical doctrines which the blessed Lutheran Reformers (re)discovered in the Bible: the 2 Kingdoms and Vocation.  A solid Lutheran (LCMS)  lay theologian, Gene Edward Veith calls Labor Day Vocation Day and writes this should be included on the Church year calendar.  I agree.

In the Sunday Lectionary, the 2nd Lesson, or Epistle lessons have been from the Apostle Paul’s Letter (Epistle) to the Romans. Yesterday’s lesson (September 4/12 Sunday after Pentecost) is Romans 13: 1-10

Romans 13

Submission to the Authorities

 1Let 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.2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For 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, 4for 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.5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 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.

Fulfilling the Law Through Love

 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

 The Reformers looked at this passage and noticed that verses 1-7 were quite different from verses 8-10.  The first verses are about punishment.  The second verses about serving the neighbor in love.  How could that be?  Then remembering many other Scripture passages, they noted that the Lord works through two ways, through His left hand and His right hand, that is the kingdoms (nations/government:  temporal) of this world and through the Kingdom of God, or the reign of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ coming into the world (eternal).  I will be writing more on this in later blogs.  But for now what unites the two kingdoms is:

1.  The Lord is God of both.

2. The Christian is called by the Lord to serve in both.

And it is particularly on labor Mondays, Tuesday, etc. that we are called to serve in our vocations and by doing so we serve and love our neighbor and for most of the time.  The first way we serve and love our neighbor is right at home:  spouse and children. Then in our jobs.

In  a parish where I served the Word, the congregational treasurer was a legal secretary and very good at both vocations.  In a phone conversation she said to me, “Pastor, I wish I could do more to help at church.”  After I assured her she was I said: “You know when you help your husband you are serving along with your son.  And right now, you are serving by doing a good job with the law office.”  Pause, then “Thanks, Pastor, that was like a load being lifted off my shoulders.”  And I knew from her labors, that was a tough job already!

Serving and loving our neighbor means also, according to the Scripture above, being good citizens of our nation. Not only to avoid the law, but also to be a witness to Jesus Christ for those who do not know Him.  See 1 Peter 2:16-18.

Gracious Father teach us to bring our gifts to You in humble gratitude for all the ways You lovingly provide for us. We ask You to provide honest and fruitful laborers in our land. Be with those who are unemployed or underemployed. Use us and others to provide for their needs, and lead them to opportunities where they may earn a living and serve You, we ask this through Your Son Jesus Christ,  carpenter.  Amen.

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Romans 13:

3For 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, 4for 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 wrong doer.

 Our Commonwealth’s flag  shows Liberty triumphant over a tyrant and tyranny and the tyrant’s crown off his head.  It is terrible when a ruler bears the sword in vain.  It was not wielded in vain on May 1st in Pakistan.

The Latin on our Commonwealth’s flag translated:  “Thus Ever to Tyrants”.


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