As was made clear in the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament writers, those who choose to live as members of the kingdom of God live by a different set of values and priorities than does the world.
Read Matthew 6:25-33. What is the reassurance we are given in these verses, and how should this reassurance impact our priorities?
Jesus taught that “life [is] more than food, and the body more than clothes” (Matt. 6:25, NIV). These things are important, of course, but we must see them in light of the kingdom of God, which means we must reprioritize our lives in real and practical ways. When we recognize the call throughout the Bible to lift up and care for others, this call also becomes one of our priorities as we who seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Ideally this call should help us focus less on ourselves and more on others.
This different set of priorities also changes our relationship with those in power over us and over the oppressed. While the Bible instructs Christians to respect and obey their governments, as far as possible (see, for example, Rom. 13:1-7), there also comes a point where we need to echo the words of Peter: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29, NIV). Jesus put these two principles in balance in His answer to those trying to trick Him on this question: “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matt. 22:21, NIV).
Those who have power, whether in government or otherwise, often enforce and maintain that power by threats or force. As we have seen in the life of Jesus, faithful living does not always and in every situation require passivity in the face of evil. For example, dealing with slavery in America, Ellen G. White wrote: “When the laws of men conflict with the word and law of God, we are to obey the latter, whatever the consequences may be. The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful master, and man has no right to take God’s workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own”. – Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pages 201, 202.
|Where is the line between obedience to authorities and standing up for those who might be victims of an oppressive authority?|