Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:1, 6-7
There are few topics that cause more heated vitriol than the role of elected government in the ordinary lives of Americans. Right now, our federal government is being accused of listening to our phone calls, bullying from the IRS and killing kittens. Ok, so kittens are safe for now, but our trust for government in general seems to be plummeting with each accusation.
The passage above from the book of Romans was written to the Christ followers living in Rome, the very center of oppressive government at the time. In the face of suffocating taxes and a military that was bent on violent, world domination, the writer of Romans reminds us that sound government has a role from God in our lives. We certainly can be skeptical of government, but let’s not dismiss the valid role government can play in our lives when motives are pure.
This past week, we watched helplessly here in Colorado as a massive wildfire swept through our community, devastating over 500 homes, killing two people and scorching thousands of acres. Our local, county, state and federal governments immediately launched an attack on this vicious blaze. Evacuations were ordered and an organized exit from heavily populated neighborhoods ensued. Roadblocks were manned by local sheriff’s deputies and firefighters from municipalities across our region rallied together.
Every day, our sheriff, local and federal fire officials, and county commissioners demonstrated amazing discipline and trustworthy leadership. It was government of the people, by the people, for the people. I pray, as President Lincoln eloquently stated at Gettysburg, that it never perishes from the earth.
We can continue to debate the necessary size and role of government, plus the needed balance between personal freedoms and national security, but let us not become so cynical of all government that we cannot appreciate its goodness when our homes and maybe our lives are being saved.