Both of these passages are a challenge to us all, who profess to be followers of Christ.
Romans questions who we should serve those in authority, which have been appointed
by God, or Jesus’s teaching which are Gods teachings and ways. Even if we suffer under those in authority.
Malachi questions whether our worship is true and right in God’s eyes. Have we, which ever denomination we support, over the years been getting further away from the true worship, that God expects?
Bill:- I don’t see this as questioning whom we should serve: I see Paul being practical about living under the authority of Rome. He believed the authorities were “instituted by God” (v.1) and “God’s servants” (v.6). Such a government was to be obeyed so that peace and not anarchy might reign. But I wonder – Would he have made the same comments if he had lived in, say, Nazi Germany or today’s Palestine?
v.5 speaks of conscience: how should we respond to laws which are manifestly unjust? I think, for example of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Ghandi.
In the run up to the general election we might consider how Paul’s words apply to us: how far are we prepared to seek God’s will as to whom He desires should have authority over us and to make our laws?
This teaching is a huge challenge for several reasons, and it has been interesting to listen to the views of people both inside and outside church in recent weeks. In our ‘just’, democratic society respect for authority has been much eroded as people view the abuse of power and position by those in authority. Regarding the payment of tax the lines between tax ‘efficiency’ and tax ‘avoidance’ have become blurred so that many feel the avoidance of paying what they should is, somehow, acceptable; ‘If big corporations get away with it, why should I worry?’. And of course, there is also the point made by Josie that in an unjust, undemocratic society where authority is abused, what is the Christian response? How often have we heard the expression ‘I was just obeying orders’ used as an excuse for war crimes, for example? This is hard teaching indeed, and judgement does have to be made about it’s application just by the church in Rome, or for today’s society.
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