Tim Gombis has just written an insightful blog post entitled “Paul’s politics of exile,” which is about Jeremiah 29 and Romans 13:1-7. Here is his concluding paragraph.
“American evangelicals would do well to consider how Israel’s exile shaped Paul’s conception of the church—his vision of a weak and vulnerable wandering people among the nations. We feel that we’re losing power, influence, access, our former position of political leverage and cultural dominance. We grow worrisome, anxious, nervous about the sort of future our churches will face and the conditions our children will encounter. I’ll just suggest to you that this might be a strategic moment for us to embrace our identity as God’s wandering people among the nations. It just may be that this emerging moment of cultural weakness is God’s gift to his church. What if it’s an opportunity for the God revealed in the crucified Jesus to press his people into the shape of the cross? What if the Lord of the church is grieved when we strive for power and agitate to control the course of history? Do we risk being blind to Paul’s vision for the polis of Jesus because we’re overcome by cultural resentment fueled by memories of former days when our opinions held sway?”
I think this is relevant to Australian Christians and their behaviour in the public square. Tim Gombis’ original blog post can be found here.
For me, what is profound about Romans 13:1-7 is that it is bracketed by 12:9-21 and 13:8-10, and both of these passages are about love. Romans 12:9-21 is about love within the Christ-community and love for outsiders, which is characterised by “repaying evil with good.” Romans 13:8-13 is about the love commandment, “love your neighbour as yourself.”