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The Roman Road

Finding our voice in society

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Publish Date: 
Wed, 10/01/2008
The Roman Road

When Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was in fact travelling on a Roman road. That is, the region was under Roman control and Paul himself used his Roman citizenship as a ticket to freedom and privilege (Acts 16:35-40).

While the rule of Rome was enlightened by contemporary standards, it was brutal and ruthless. Rome’s justice was swift, without mercy and cruel. It was a sobering sight to see thousands of people nailed to crosses on the main roads of the empire. This was Rome’s way of warning subjected peoples against staging insurrections. The message was clear: Rome will not tolerate agitators of any sort.

In Rome itself, criminals and slaves were thrown to the lions in great open arenas and gladiators fought to the death to gain freedom from servitude. The crowds loved “the games” and lusted for blood spilled in the most gruesome manner.

This was the Rome that Paul knew and wherein Christianity grew and flourished throughout its far flung regions. This too was the Rome to which Paul urged that Christians should respectfully submit! (Romans 13:1-7). Moreover, Paul also commanded the followers of Christ to pray for the supreme and regional leaders of Rome (1 Timothy 2:1-7).

Thus Paul calls upon Christians, firstly, to recognise the seat of Caesar as the “servant of God” called to bring order and peace to the Empire. This servant does not “wear the sword” for naught and indeed needs the constant prayers of Christians; all this so that there may be no hindrance to the preaching of the Gospel. Temporal affairs are not as important as eternal affairs!

For some Christians these teachings of Paul are hard to swallow, especially if the sword-bearing government is not Christian, does not subscribe to Christian values, and appears to be ruthless, as Rome was! But Paul knew the power of submission and intercession. The one gives entrance and opens doors; and the other brings supernatural change and transformation.

Today, we prefer to gather on the sidelines and criticise. This is far easier than to go the biblical route. And, after all, the biblical route seems powerless and weak. The truth is, we know the power of prayer and do not employ it. Further, when the Christian world gains the right to speak, we must beseech God to raise up prophetic voices to call the nations and its leaders to moral accountability. The fledgling church of Paul’s day could not “address” Rome for the simple reason that it had not yet grown in stature to be a recognised voice in that way. Submission and intercession were the “instruments” that Paul advocated.

Today in America, this principle still applies. The new administration cannot remotely be compared to that of Rome. Christians may disagree with it but they must submit and intercede! The latter is vital! Thankfully, in America today the church has gained “a voice” and it is crucial that the American church pray for a “spiritual father of the nation” to be raised up to give voice to the purpose of God with dignity.

 

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