“The Powers That Be”

We had an interesting sermon on Sunday morning; it seemed so appropriate for these troubled times, so I thought I’d share a bit of it with you. The initial thoughts were about our current pandemic and the rules and regulations that have sprung up in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The caution we need to exercise, the masks, the social distancing.

So what position should we take as Christians with regard to these new rules and regulations? Pastor Con B quoted from Romans Chapter 13, which starts out with “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers…” and went on to explain that these new requirements are not violating any principles of our faith, so we should submit to the law without fussing, as we’re instructed in different places in the New Testament.

For interest sake I’m going to do a little paraphrase, trying to catch the spirit of verses 1-10 and our Sunday morning sermon. Please take time to read these verses for yourselves, but here’s my version:

Verse one encourages us to submit to the government of the land, because these “powers that be” are ordained of God. No, He doesn’t elect them or choose every law the government enacts, but God is behind the whole principle of law and order. Yes, even if our Leader’s a Nero. We may not be able to support every law, but nowhere does the New Testament give Christians an okay to get involved in sedition. This is the example Jesus left us. He could have called ten thousand angels to deal with this injustice, but He submitted to the Roman authority, even to accepting a death sentence.

Verse 2-3: Whoever resists the power (government of the land) resists the ordinance of God. And any of those who resist (engage in sedition, verbal or literal) will receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not to be feared if you are doing good works, but those who do evil have good cause to fear the laws of the land. If you do that which is right and good, the rulers will rather respect you and be thankful for you as citizens. “Thou shalt have praise of the same.”

Verse 4: The rulers are God’s means of administering law and order; by and large God does use the laws of the land and a stable government to protect you from criminals. But if you do that which is evil, commit crimes and defy authority, you need to be afraid of the law. It’s there for a reason and God will use the laws of the land to punish you. Every sin will receive a just punishment – in this world or the next.

Verse 5: So you should be subject to the law, not only because you fear the punishment for breaking the law but to keep your conscience free. You want to do God’s will in this life and it’s God’s will that you submit to authority. If you fuss about the laws, you’re ultimately fussing about God’s plan.

Verse 6: Pay your taxes – they exist for a reason, for the good of the country – and follow all the laws as much as possible. God is using the people who carry out these duties to fulfill his plan for your land, and ultimately for your own benefit.

Verse 7-8: So pay what you need to pay to your country and give everyone the respect due to their position. It is God’s will that you treat all people, and every authority, with proper respect. Those you should fear, fear them; those you should show honour to, honour them properly. Don’t be debtors in this regard, but you need to demonstrate love and respect one for another, for all of you who show love toward others is fulfilling the law of God.

Verse 9: Remember his commandments, “Thou shall not commit adultery; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet.” And if there be any other commandments given, they can be summed up (in the words of our Lord Jesus): “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Verse 10: Love is kind and patient; love doesn’t envy or speak evil of others; love works no ill to his neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law of God. (See I Corinthians Ch 13)

The teachings of Jesus and the writings of the apostles contain many similar instructions to Christians: Honor the laws of the land and give due respect to your rulers. What they require of you, do it – unless you’re asked to do something that truly violates your Christian beliefs. And don’t try to stretch “violates my beliefs” until it covers “I don’t want to.”

Moreover, with all the elections this fall, it’s vital to realize that “I don’t like the party in power now,” is no excuse, either. Sneering at those in authority grieves our heavenly Father.

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.”
— II Peter 2: 9-10

Cranes Again

Sandhill cranes again
as every autumn ever
float over our fields.
Exiles, always calling
their lost and lonely plaint.

Drifting, always searching
a place to rest, a scattering
of grain not gathered in.
Gleaning, always mourning,
like us, the coming chill.

Shadows of autumn
gliding, all too briefly,
over our land and gone.
We're left to mourn alone
the chilling, biting winds.
Image by ladymacbeth — Pixabay

Waiting for the Starting Gun?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was INTERIM

Here we are, almost the middle of October, which means NaNoWriMo starts in eighteen days and ten hours. Which means I’ve got two weeks to think of some brilliant plot if I hope to take part in the Great Event. For those of you who haven’t heard, Nanowrimo is a month-long event where hopeful biographers, memoir and travel writers, novelists and poets all around the world sit town and hammer away, aiming for 1500 words per day, give or take.

In the interim — these October days so swiftly passing by — participants will need to get their ducks lined up in a row. And here I am without so much as a feather of an idea!

I enjoy the challenge of trying to write 50k words in November. Just the thought of it starts my blood rushing through my veins, ready to pour out onto the pages, as one writer put it. I’d be delighted to sign up and outline my project — but at this point I’d be like the writer who said, “I’m writing a novel. Today I did the page numbers.”

October is when we’re supposed to do the research, fix the era, verify the dates, outline the plot, determine the objectives, envision the characters with their qualities good and bad. Would any of you readers like to suggest a title and some characters for my potential Nov. tale?

I have this e-book where the writer claims anyone can write 5000 words in an hour, and his claim is quite believable. I’ve done a thousand words in ten minutes myself. BUT… you have to know when you start to type exactly what you’re going to say. No mulling, no research, no rethinking or rewriting. This kind of writing takes serious planning before and between sessions, unless you’re a really good “pantser” who can start with an opening scene — like Snoopy’s, “It was a dark and stormy night…” — and just go wherever the characters take you.

One thing I will say about Nanowrimo: it’s worth a try. It’s an exercise, an encouragement to write. Even if a person writes a short story instead of a full-length novel, you still have the satisfaction of accomplishing something. However, like any other journey, you need some idea of where you want to end up and the route you need to take to get there, or you may just wander around in inky circles, lost and discouraged.

Kind of like life, right? Life coaches encourage everyone to set goals. They warn us that if we just drift through each day without clear goals we’ll end up nowhere — and find the trip unsatisfying.

So here’s wishing you inspiration and clear objectives, if you’re among those who intend to join the Nanowrimo crowd. Should my muse deliver a semi-load of inspiration before Nov 1st, I’ll sign up, too. 😉

Yes, We Can!

I just came across this quote and found it quite thought-provoking:

“Progress,’ wrote C.S. Lewis, ‘means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.’ This is a phenomenally good way of looking at it, I think. Forward momentum, on an individual or social level, is not automatically good simply because it is forward momentum. Sometimes we push our lives in the wrong direction. If we feel it is making ourselves unhappy, progress might mean doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.
But we must never feel – personally or as a culture — that only one version of the future is inevitable. The future is ours to shape.

― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet
Image: jplenio — Pixabay