Digging in Deeper: Romans 13:3-4

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the one in authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. For it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

While we can debate whether America was founded as a Christian nation as we understand the idea today, one thing that is indisputably true is that it was established on ideals found only in the Christian worldview. Whether they were orthodox believers or not, that worldview was the overwhelming framework of the Founders. In a letter to the Massachusetts Militia written almost exactly 223 years ago (Monday is the actual anniversary), John Adams made a famous remark about the character he believed was necessary to sustain our nation into the future. He said this: “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” It seems of late that our culture is engaged in an experiment to test whether Adams’ observation is true. The results are starting to come in, and they aren’t exactly encouraging. Let’s talk today about where we are as a people and what we can do about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 12:15-17

“But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, ‘Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.’ They brought a coin. ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ he asked them. ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Jesus told them, ‘Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were utterly amazed at him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

During it’s seven-season run, I loved the show West Wing. Now, I know its cultural and political positions are pretty decidedly different from those I personally hold now, but the writing and acting were both terrific. When Aaron Sorkin wasn’t trying to be preachy (which wasn’t much, but still…), he was a master of witty dialogue and developing solid relationships among a whole cast of characters. All the same, the show was designed to highlight a certain political and cultural worldview (which, interestingly, would find no quarter in today’s political scene with its ever-shrinking center), and Sorkin’s preferred method of doing so was to have one character deliver a perfectly-timed monologue in such a way to make the other side look absolutely silly and defeated and to render all counterarguments moot. Well, I’m not sure how much time Sorkin has spent reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, but if he has, he must have been pretty impressed as Jesus did the same kind of thing with a remarkable frequency. Let’s take a look this morning at one of the more well-known of Jesus’ “Sorkin moments.”

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Digging in Deeper: Exodus 19:5

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my reassured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine…”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

One of the things we are called to (and by “we,” I mean “everybody”) over and over again in the Scriptures is obedience.  We live in a day, though, when obedience is not a popular idea.  We want to be free to do as we please.  We want to loosen the restrictions on ourselves so we can pursue our hearts’ desires without any limitations.  Nobody likes the idea of obedience…except for when they do. Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: 1 Timothy 2:1-2

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

While Paul encourages prayer generally, his real focus here is on urging believers to pray for their societal leaders.  His reason for this is clear: So that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Romans 13:1

“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.”  (ESV)

This is one of the harder things Paul wrote.  The relationship of Christians to the authority of the state has been a stubborn knot to untangle since the beginning.  What does it look like to be subject to governing authorities as one who is chiefly subject to the authority of Christ?  If there is no authority except what has been instituted by God, what do we do about authorities that do not in any way seem to be godly?  Surely there have been authorities in place over the centuries that were not instituted by God…right?   Read the rest…