Can you think of examples in the Bible where civil disobedience was the right and good choice? Of stories when someone chose to stand up for what he/she believed even if it meant loss or punishment because it was the God honoring action? What guidelines would you give to someone who is wrestling with these kinds of dilemmas? How do you decide what to do when you feel the government or local authorities are requiring something of you that is against your Biblical or perhaps moral convictions?
These questions must have been on the minds of the new believers in Rome because right in between 2 paragraphs about the enormous importance of “loving your neighbor as yourself”, Paul inserts direct advice about our responsibility to submit to governing authorities. It would seem from what he wrote that God is the one who establishes governments and that we are to honor and respect them no matter who they are or how they might be executing their responsibilities. Didn’t Jesus Himself make it quite clear that we were to “render unto Caesar the things that belong to him”? Paul also carefully explained that because we are no longer obligated to listen to those around us or to our old self-centered desires, we are free to humbly accept the authority that is over us as evidence that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
It just could be that this is an appropriate time for you and me to carefully consider the counsel that Paul gave centuries ago to the Romans who certainly were living under the reign and rule of leaders that it would have been hard for them to respect and to honor.