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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

If Christians Are Supposed to Obey the Authorities; Why Was Paul in Prison So Much?

Paul, himself, said that Christians should obey the government. You would have thought that Paul would have kept his nose clean and never seen the inside of a prison. That, of course, is not the case.

Most of the New Testament was written by Paul. He wrote while he was in prison. He went to prison for disturbing the peace. He preached the gospel of Jesus Christ so fervently that it upset the people in charge. He was placed in prison until the authorities could decide what to do with him. So, why did he keep doing it each time he was released.

Paul saw Jesus as Lord. He believed that he was answering to Him first. Paul knew he must continue to do so at whatever peril in order to continue to follow his Lord. If this meant prison; so be it. His intent was not to break the law but to follow his Lord.

I have to admit that I have only lived this one time in my life. I went on a mission trip to Mongolia several years ago. The intent of the trip was to start a church in a remote village about seventy miles from Ulanbator, the capitol. I had with me a translator and a man from my church who had never been on a mission trip. We were dropped off by a missionary from the area who had never been to this village before. We headed off in an old Russian jeep down a road full of craters that at one time had been merely potholes.

I asked the missionary, "What do I need to do to start a church?"

"Don't know, " came the reply, "I've never been here before."

"What do you suggest?" I persisted.

"Do what works."

"What works?"

"Don't know, I've never been here before," he said again. "Just don't go door to door. It's illegal."
(Actually, you can't go door to door it is more like going hut to hut."

The missionary dropped us off in the village at a home of someone who agreed to take us in for the next five days while we were to see if there was any interest in a Christian church being started. I watched the jeep drive into the distance.

Bob, the man with me from my church, said, "What are we going to do?"

There was only one Christian in this village of 30,000. He had walked or hitch-hiked the seventy miles to the capitol to ask that someone start a Christian church in his village. I was very aware of this man's deep concern for his family and friends. I felt I had a mandate from the Lord to help start this church.

"We're going door to door." I didn't see that we had time to find out "what works." We had paid made too much of an effort and paid too much money to sit still. We needed to get about the Lord's business so we went from hut to hut telling people about the gospel.

I resolved at that moment that I didn't want to be thrown in jail for sharing the gospel but if that is what it took to be faithful to my Lord; so be it. I understood a small part of what Paul went through.

We did see a policeman one day but I am sure he was like most of the authorities of Paul's day: If no one complained, he was not going to get involved. The problem in Paul's day was that people complained and the authorities were brought in.

This day may come again. The ability to share the gospel is continuing to be censored in this country. Christianity is being blamed for many of the ills of the country. It sounds much like Nero blaming the Christians for the burning of Rome. The country is going toward the amorality of the Roman Empire. Unwanted babies were thrown on trash heaps. Homosexuality was a leisure activity. Pornography and prostitution was common. The country was decaying and looking for someone to blame.

I hope that if the day comes when I need to stand up for my Lord or simply try to keep the peace, I will choose my Lord without any contemplation.

No, we have not gotten there yet and we probably won't get there in my lifetime. Then again, if you had told me that we would be where we are now in our morality in the 80's I would have said there is no way this would happen.

Yes, this can be turned around. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is needed now more than ever.

1 comment:

Royce said...

Now throw in the "Hollywood Elite" flaunting something so rediculous as Scientology to the masses thru the media. Unfortunately, the general public tends to idolize, listen to, and respond to actors and athletes today like never before. The "I wish I could live like, look like, be like, and have everything like they do" syndrome. Quite sad that these are current day role models.