Digging in Deeper: Romans 13:1-4

“Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. 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)

If there was ever a passage of Scripture that was misused and misunderstood, it is this one. Especially today. And it’s not hard to see why. Given the state of our political culture, it’s hard to imagine a block of teaching better suited to tick off everybody. And the thing is, who exactly gets riled up about this passage changes from one political administration to another. There are churches who, during the George W. Bush administration, argued that this passage meant Christians absolutely needed to support the war effort in Iraq. Today, those same churches probably aren’t using the same passage to explain why their members need to be more supportive of the various legislative and policy efforts of the Biden administration. There are other churches, though, who have used the same passage in the exact opposite direction. This morning, I don’t want to talk about any of that. Instead, I want to focus our attention on the end of the passage and talk about a group of individuals who tend to be as overlooked as they are underappreciated by our culture. This morning I want to talk about Romans 13 and correctional officers.

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Digging in Deeper: Romans 12:19

Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you do when you can’t decide between two options? If possible, you choose both. This past week I finished watching a miniseries and finally watched a movie that first came out a couple of months ago. I had always planned to write a review of both once I finished watching them. I hadn’t planned on finishing both in the same week. And yet, as I have gone back and forth on which one to write about first, it became clearer and clearer that they both covered a whole lot of the same theological ground, although from different directions. Trying to treat them separately just didn’t make sense. Today, then, we are going to span two totally different media universes and talk about the recently completed Marvel series, Moon Knight, as well as the fairly recent latest offering from DC Comics, The Batman, and see how two different visions of the world reveal the Gospel is still the greatest vision of reality there is.

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Digging in Deeper: Psalm 37:7

“Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the person who carries out evil plans.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever seen someone get away with something? Maybe it was something small and didn’t really matter, but maybe it was entirely more significant than that. Either way, when a person escapes justice, something in us rises up to say, “No!” Injustice is simply out of sync with our souls. What do we do in times like this? David offers some wise counsel here in Psalm 37. Let’s explore what this does and doesn’t mean together this morning.

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Morning Musing: Isaiah 61:1-3

“The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Who did Jesus come to save? I know the “right” answer to that question is everyone. But let’s actually think about it for a minute. Who did Jesus come to save? Here’s an answer that’s just as correct but isn’t in terms we usually use. Jesus came to save people who are in need of saving. Now, if that seems tautologous, it is, but that doesn’t make it any less important to understand. In this prophecy from Isaiah that Jesus claimed for Himself, we get a better sense of just what this means.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 14:55

“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they could not find any.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Every now and then we learn of the simultaneously joyous and heartbreaking story of a man being released from prison after spending decades locked up for a crime he did not commit. Each one of these instances – far, far too many borne on the backs of black men who were unjustly locked up by a system laden with subtle racism that has proven far more difficult for our culture to eradicate than we once thought – is a tragedy. Innocent people being made to suffer unjustly is an outrage to all clear-thinking citizens of any nation. And the greater the suffering of the innocent, the more it should enrage those who learn of it. It certainly does our God who is fundamentally just in the core of His character. This is what makes the death of Jesus of Nazareth so scandalous. Have you thought of it in those terms before? We celebrate it because of what it accomplished for us, but this morning let’s pause a moment to remember that it also represented the absolute pinnacle of injustice.

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