Paul continues to explain how a person who is wholeheartedly given over to God would live in their daily lives but now, instead of describing how we should live among other believers, he writes about how we should live in our wider societies.
Christians in ancient Rome, as today, faced the challenge of living as part of a society that largely did not know the Lord, and which promoted a lifestyle that was far from Godís best. Paulís first principles at the beginning of Romans 12 were for us to be set apart from the world, and to be transformed so that we can understand Godís will. If we are to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God in a fallen world, then we will need to make sure we are paying attention to both of these instructions.
Yet Paulís command to be subject to the governing authorities may give us pause for thought. Perhaps we find it hard to submit to authorities that we did not vote for and with whom we might strongly disagree. Living under the rule of a foreign super power, Paul no doubt sometimes had strong feelings about those in authority over him too, and yet he recognised that rulers and authorities only exist because God has ordained it.
For this reason, we submit. Paul does not say obey the ruling authorities, and neither does he say to agree with them. To submit is something deeper Ė an attitude, not just actions. Sometimes governments will do things that we sincerely disagree with, which seem to go wholly against what is righteous and, as Christians, we can speak out about that. There are times when, in order to honour God we must, like Daniel, disobey the rulers. However, if we submit to our authorities then, like Daniel, we must face the consequences of breaking the laws.
Submitting also means paying what we owe. We may find it troubling to pay our tax money to a government that then uses it for something we strongly disagree with, or that is clearly sinful. We can remember that Jesus told his disciples that they must pay their taxes to the same Roman government that would later crucify him. Our problems are nothing new.
In times of political turmoil in this country, we would do well to submit to the authorities, to acknowledge that they are only there because God allows it, and to pray earnestly for them, and for the nation that is subject to them.