Monday, March 30, 2009

... to do you good

Our catechism portion this week is from the first verses of Romans 13, about how the government is God's way of keeping control in this world. The government punishes the bad guys. Your reward for being a good guy is that the government will leave you alone and not punish you.

Sometimes we think that government has this part really botched up. Sometimes the innocent are punished while the guilty go free. In some nations, there is serious persecution of the good guys while the criminals and murderers stage a coup and take over the government. Sometimes we fear that doing good (whether a religious good like speaking God's truth, or a secular good like stopping to help an injured person) will not garner a reward, but punishment. But, hey, when Paul wrote this, he wasn't exactly writing to Christians who lived in a Christian society under a just government; he was unjustly beaten by his government.

What are we to make of it when the government punishes the good guys? Is it possible to remember that God is doing us GOOD when we are unfairly punished? Maybe God's "good" is bigger than the comfort of this temporal life. Maybe He actually is "doing us good" through the government even when the government punishes good guys. That'd sure be hard to see. Either way, the truth of God's blessing-in-trial is certainly no excuse for the government to fail to do what they've been called to do.

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