Series: Followers of Jesus
Message: In the World
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Don Pate
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 13:1-14 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: How are we to be good citizens exactly? How are we to show respect even in the face of things we disagree with? Are we even allowed to disagree? Or does Paul seem to imply we should just obey, support authorities, pay our taxes, and be silent? This is the continued tension we face. Let me share just one more example this week of another good brother of mine, who recently spoke truth to power. Dr. Stephan Sigg serves as the President of the German-Swiss Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and he posted his two-minute appeal regarding authority in the church as follows:
What do Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, McDonald’s, and Apple have in common? They are organized in a business-like manner. Governed top-down, ruled and controlled by the headquarters. Their centers of power provide all the products, initiatives and programs. They ensure that all their chapters/churches “look” the same and “taste” the same. The subordinate levels of leadership serve to channel the plans and ideas from the top. A possible approach to governance. And we could in this respect also refer to the Catholic Church as an example.
But we are different. Though we call ourselves a “church,” we are God’s endtime movement. We are God’s people, His family, called to proclaim and translate the everlasting Gospel into real life, personally and corporately. We are different.
When through God’s providence the Adventist movement grew, it became clear that the idea of centralized governance would hinder God’s Mission. So they distributed the responsibilities to the various mission fields. Ellen G. White was a strong advocate of this reorganization. More than 100 years since, we as delegates represent by God’s grace more than 20 million baptized members.
Why should we at this point in time start to reverse the distribution of power and responsibilities initiated by our pioneers? Shouldn’t we rather continue in the direction God was leading us?
We are different. We are the Body of Christ, united by our shared faith in Jesus and our trust in God’s Word. We rightly say that we are governed by Christ. And we trust in the wonderful leading of the Holy Spirit in various ways, in all the parts of the world and all our fields.
Why should we expand organizational structures that do not facilitate this trust and hurt God’s movement?
Recalibrate: Is peace possible in the world today? How do we hear the call of Jesus to be peacemakers when injustice is all around us?
Respond: Pray for a greater capacity to listen to others.
Research: Here is a great book worth adding to your library: Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World by Eric Metaxas.
Remember: “If you love your neighbor, you see, you have fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8, KNT).
Japhet De Oliveira is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and is co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, he served in the South England Conference for nine years—as a pastor and later as conference youth director—before moving to the United States in 2006. He is married to Becky and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jonah (14).
With your little one, play a game of “Because I Love You.” Say “Because I love you” before you do the things that have to be done in your little one’s routine. For example, “Because I love you, we read books together.” “Because I love you, I cook you good food (even though I know you will probably throw it on the floor).” “Because I love you, I cuddle you until we are both just about asleep.” Know that everything that Jesus did and is doing is because He loves you.
Play your favorite game. Go over the rules and work out why those rules make that game so much fun to play. Romans Chapter 13 is all about how we play. Do we constantly argue with how other players are keeping the rules or do we just get on with loving the game?
Yesterday, we revisited the fact that Jesus calls everybody for discipleship—even the average nobodies. When He was on earth, Jesus also specifically targeted outsiders, and we are indebted to old Luke for alerting us to that fact. If you only read the other three Gospels, you’d never know that Jesus reached out to a Samaritan leper, to a Roman traitor/tax collector named Zacchaeus, to a stupid lost sheep, to a defiant prodigal son, to a thief who was being executed, etc. All of these rejected people—and more like them—found Jesus reaching out to them. So, are you ever tempted to think that you aren’t important enough for Him to call you? Luke would not agree with you.