Dear Church Family,
Isn’t it amazing how a letter written 2000 years ago to a few dozen Christians in Rome is relevant and applicable to the issues the church faces in 2020? I remember in college believing that the Bible was an outdated and irrelevant collection of writings that had absolutely no bearing on my life. Oh, how wrong I was!! The past few months I have wondered in amazement at how Paul’s letter to the Romans speaks so poignantly and directly to our current circumstances! While I’m sure there are dozens of such examples, here are four places that Paul’s letter to the Romans interfaces with the current political and social climate in America and instructs Christians on how to live in the midst of it all.
First, Romans 2 demonstrates that current political protests prove the validity of God’s Word. Whenever Americans acknowledge that racism and other forms of injustice are wrong, they are inadvertently demonstrating the truth of Romans 2:15, which states that even people who have never seen or read the Bible possess knowledge of the Law of God because it is written on their hearts. Is racism wrong? Absolutely! Does our culture possess an innate knowledge of that universal truth? Absolutely! Make no mistake, when a person strongly declares on Monday that people can live however they want and choose for themselves what is right and wrong, and then on Tuesday turns around and protests the injustices of society, they are revealing their hand. They demonstrate to the universe that they know full well God’s Law. On Monday they suppress the truth because they don’t want it (Romans 1:18), while on Tuesday they affirm it because it is inescapable. As Christians, we should not be surprised as this drama unfolds, proving the validity of the Bible. The Word of God has us pegged.
Second, Romans 5 teaches us where to look during the current pandemic for the assurance that God loves us. So many people want to question the goodness of God, or His love for us as they watch the pandemic sweep across the world and observe many of the injustices taking place in our own country. However, if we take the Bible seriously, we should expect such injustices to take place, as well as disease, suffering and death. The letter to the Romans teaches that we do not look to such things to understand God or His love. Instead, we look to the Cross! Romans 5:8 says, “but God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The pinnacle of God’s demonstration of love is the sacrifice of the perfect Son of God in the stead of ruined and rebellious sinners. Praise the Lord that in the midst of disease, persecution, health issues, the loss of loved ones, political chaos, and wide-spread fear, Christians can have objective and unwavering knowledge of the amazing love of God for sinners as we look to cross of Jesus.
Third, Romans 12 gives us wisdom for navigating the media, the news, and the ocean of political discussion that is currently taking place. The temptation exists for believers to consume all forms of media at extremely high rates. It is interesting, it is entertaining, and it is highly accessible. According to the NY Times the average American in 2016 watched 5 hours and 4 minutes of TV every day. That number does not include other forms of media, and has only grown over the past four years. However, while it is important to be informed, it is far more important that Christians are transformed. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” The Lord states very clearly that in response to His immense love and mercy shown to us through the Gospel, Christians are not to allow their culture to force them into its mold. Instead, we carefully choose what we allow our minds to consume because transformation into the likeness of Christ takes place through the renewing of our minds. What goes in, comes out. Amazingly, the letter to the Romans even speaks to media consumption!!
Finally, Romans 13 teaches us that wearing masks in public is an expression of obedience to God, and by resisting the governor’s mandate, we are resisting God. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities,” Paul wrote in Romans 13:1. Don’t you love how clear the Bible is! Praise the Lord for the perspicuity of His Word. Verse 2 goes on to say, “Whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God.” I have always been amazed by the willingness of Christians throughout history to be persecuted and even die for the sake of obedience to their savior. The great irony of these verses is that Paul was calling Christians to be subject to Emperor Nero – the same Roman emperor who, years later, would have him beheaded for his testimony of Jesus Christ. Do you ever wonder how our church would do under such circumstances…? It is an important question to ask ourselves considering Romans 13 clearly and unapologetically called the believers of its day to be subject to Emperor Nero. Perhaps, the mandate to wear face masks in public is a small litmus test to determine how far you and I would go in our obedience and devotion to Christ.
Oh, how wrong I was back in college to think that the Bible had no bearing on my life. Its truths are clear, applicable, and remarkably relevant! As a church family, let us zealously take up the mantle of obeying Christ in these days and thinking about current events through the grid of God’s amazing Word!! See you on Sunday (as long as my glasses are not too foggy).
Serving Christ together,