Let every person be subject to the governing authorities… for he is God's servant for your good. (Romans 13:1 & 4 ESV) Paul continues to spell out the encouragement to live a life of love, even in relation to all humanity. Romans 13 reminds us not only that we are part of the fabric of all society, but more importantly that God works in and through all things for our good.

Here at International Lutheran Church, we are nearing the end of our “On the Roman Road” journey as we further consider the implications of living in the light of God’s mercy. Our faith does not remove us from the world but instead transforms and renews our minds that we would see how God works through humble, ordinary means to care for all people. The vocation of public service is no less an important task that even Christians should be eager to fill, but also to recognize that even through the non-Christian, God seeks to bless and care for all.

God works through means. This is an important and fundamentally misunderstood concept. Often, we only think of God as working through extraordinary or supranatural ways, that is, beyond nature. Yet this is not the view of the Biblical witness nor the Christian faith. Instead, the first article of the Creed – “I believe in God the Father Maker of Heaven and Earth” – shows to us a very different pattern. God is active and involved in all aspects of our lives. Even as He causes the rain to fall on the just as on the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and provides food and shelter for the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields (Matthew 6:26-29), so much more He cares for you and me.

This is clearly seen in God’s Word that comes to us not only through the mouth of His Son, Jesus, but also through the prophets and apostles. This Word of promise connected to ordinary water becomes a vehicle to make us holy, namely Baptism, just as the simple elements of bread and wine together with the promise of His Word – “This is My Body; this is My Blood given for you” – gives us the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, salvation, and makes us one with Him and with one another; that is, the Lord’s Supper. While this does not deny God the ability to work immediately or without means, more often than not God reenforces even in His miraculous way that He chooses to work through means. Romans 13 is a good example of this. While God could command and order each human life individually, instead we see that all rulers (believing or even non-believing) serve His divine purpose to punish and put away evil as well as promote and reward the good.

As a person of both Jewish and Roman descent, Saul, or Paul as we more commonly know him, even made use of this dual identity to further the Gospel message (Acts 22:28). Even this letter, written to adjure the faithful in Rome to join him in his mission to take the Gospel all the way to Spain, is a tool which God’s Spirit uses to shape and mold our lives. Our conduct and respect toward those in authority is a witness to them as well as to the whole world as we live in the freedom of God’s love and grace. You and I even become the means that God uses to care for our neighbor as we live our lives in relation to others. God grant us such faith to live in harmony and service to all.

Pastor Carl