baltimore policeThe beginning of Romans 13 describes the protection-design God gave societies when He instituted government. Right now, there are some in Baltimore (in government leadership and in the normal populace), who are in violation of this design. If individuals would understand, then act on the truth in this passage, the problems they are facing right now would take a major step in the right direction. But as it stands now, people don’t feel safe and (without the backing of superiors) the police don’t feel authorized to keep people safe.

What follows are the phrases you’ll read in the first four verses of Romans 13. (Keep in mind, if you believe your governmental leaders don’t deserve your submission and obedience, that Paul’s first-century government was the Roman Empire, led by Nero – not exactly a friend to the Christian or Jewish communities.)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. – This is true of Baltimore and any other municipality. Governments are established by God for His purposes of safety and flourishing of the people. For that to happen, governmental leaders have to understand their God-given responsibility to keep order, rewarding and punishing depending on people’s behavior.

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. – There may have been abuses of authority by some Baltimore law enforcement officials, but mostly in America we should be grateful for those who risk their very lives to keep us safe. To watch the news or hear interviews of some citizens of Baltimore, the police are to be defied. There is judgment promised to those who defy God-appointed authority; one of those judgments should be consequences for such rebellious behavior. The problem for Baltimore right now is that the police are not arresting folks at the same rate as before, an unintended consequence for not supporting law enforcement as it should be. The mayor, police chief and state’s attorney bear responsibility for this judgment. During the riots, they coddled those who would destroy and terrorize.  

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. – If you’re not doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t have to fear any reprisals from law enforcement. Police need to keep this in mind as they serve. 

But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. – There’s a good and right reason police carry tasers, night sticks and sidearms. It’s not in vain and has the sanction of the One who ordained governmental authority in the first place. If you get in a police officer’s face and/or try to take away said weapon, you might get hurt. That’s common sense and is a given. No monument needs to be erected to commemorate the life and death of one who foolishly violated this simple principle.

For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. – Government leaders and law enforcement officials should be God’s representatives to us for our good, keeping us safe by carrying out judgment on wrongdoers. That can only happen as their authority is properly recognized, respected and obeyed.

Police who respond to calls are being surrounded by mobs of 30 – 50 people threatening them. Political leaders have sided with criminals. The result? The very protectors of Baltimore’s safety that God has provided have been reduced to unrecognized authorities. You have negated God’s very instruments of your peace and now you can’t leave home without fear of being shot. When those in your communities embraced near anarchy, fueled by perceived injustice, what did you expect?

Baltimore – leaders and citizens – need to quit treating Romans 13 like it is something you can just take or leave. Right now, many are walking away from following its principles, and that is proving to everybody that it’s a disastrous decision.