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. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of justice to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him; if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:1-7)
When going to the poll booth in November of 2016 many of us asked ourselves, “Of all the people in the United States, how did we end up with the choice of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?” The answer from these verses is that God chose the two candidates, and he intended for Donald Trump to be president. If you don’t like Donald Trump, should you rebel against him? After all, this is a free country, and we have freedom of speech. No, you should not rebel because you are also rebelling against God, and you will bring judgment upon yourself. According to the Bible, the sword will be against you, and you should be afraid.
All governments have a God-given right to punish treason, to preserve themselves in power by legitimate means. God says that if we submit to authority and don’t oppose the government, we don’t have to fear the authorities. God is also telling us we need to pay our taxes, whether we agree with how the government spends its money or not, because the authorities are God’s servants, and they work full time governing, deciding how the government must spend money for our protection and the services which we need to function.
I love the Bible, but these verses aren’t my favorite. I think of countries that are ruled by tyranny whose people are oppressed, and I wonder how God is helping them. Many of us long for a Christian president; we had one with Jimmy Carter. He was a lovely man, but a horrible president, perhaps the worst president in my lifetime. I think the message here is that we owe God respect and honor, and we need to trust him as our leader. Perhaps Christians shouldn’t be leaders of countries, but leaders of love.