Power to Divide or Unite

Matthew 5:3–12, Romans 13:1–10

Authority is an issue. Authority is not the same as power. Plenty of people have power. In fact, most of us have power. We may not be aware of it, but we have it. One of the greatest powers we have on earth is our vote. It often doesn’t seem like it. Politicians, traditional media, social media all try to convince that we need to make the right choice, and then tell us how our vote doesn’t count because someone else has the power to change our vote or take it away.

Often we confuse power and authority. Power can make people do things. Authority, however, is the right (as in righteousness) to give orders, commands, and make decisions.

We have a mutual agreement between our fellow citizens here in the United States. It is actually a mutuality of submission. We don’t think of it that way. We think of it as our “rights”. Through that mutuality of submission, we give authority to others.

As much as we may not like politicians we still, collectively, elected them. We don’t like that truth. It doesn’t change it though. In comparison to the era in Paul wrote, we do have power and authority in regards to our government. As much as we feel we have no control, in comparison to Paul, we do.

When Paul tells us to submit it’s not quite the same for us. Yet, there is a truth. We are not called to beat our chests or shake our fists. We are called to reach out with open hands. The sad part is that right now the two “sides” have split Christians. Both sides (the parties are a completely different issue) have ideals that are Christian. We have allowed ourselves to be divided.

1) Politics and religion are two “bad” topics in social settings. How can we talk about them with the grace that we are to have through the Holy Spirit?

2) Why do we allow ourselves to be torn apart by politics, especially when we are called into unity by Jesus Christ as his bride (the church)?

3) How can we balance the freedom and responsibility we have as citizens of the United States with the submission to authority that Paul calls for?