ARE ALL AUTHORITIES “FROM GOD”?
(Tuesday, September 12)
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.” (Rom 13:1-3a)
This morning I came across this reading, and stopped short at the final verse quoted above. St. Paul is talking about rulers who “are not a terror to good works, but to evil.” St. Paul himself was condemned to death by authorities, to whom he would not submit in ways that went against his conscience and faith. Because those authorities had chosen to be “a terror to good works,” not always or only to evil ones.
So, we are *not* to recognize as authorities any “authorities” or “rulers,” insofar as they choose to become a terror to good works, like praying or protesting for peace; like speaking out against corruption, war-crimes, or speaking other truth to power. Our primary obedience is to God, whose truth sets us free from any misplaced or misguided sense of obligation to “authorities” who have ceased to be authorities for us, because they choose to persecute the good. I’m thinking about this on this wonderful Tuesday morning, on my third day at a conference in Cambridge, as I pray the liberating Troparion of the First Hour: “In the morning hear my voice, my King and my God!” Thank You, God, for giving me *my* voice, and for being my primary authority; *my* King and *my* God.