Last night in the Bible study we finished looking at Romans 13. The section on government and paying taxes took us down a path of looking at how to serve God in a society which, by and large, no longer acknowledges Him. This is not a modern problem. Obadiah served in government in the days of Ahab, a king who displeased the Lord, yet he was so well thought of by the king that he was trusted and in charge of the palace (1 Kings 18:3). Nonetheless, he served God faithfully as well, sheltering His prophets from harm (1 Kings 18:4). Daniel is another example of faithful service in unfavourable conditions. In Daniel 6, we read how he was so good at his job that the king was going to make him second in command, to the anger and jealousy of the other officials which led to them plotting his downfall. Their machinations resulted in his being thrown into the lions’ den, but they could find no governmental reason to oust him for he was without corruption or negligence – a model citizen in every way! Although it may be difficult to serve God in hostile territory, so to speak, each one of us is called to be faithful to God and to serve society to the best of our ability. As Mordecai reminded Esther, “who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Romans 13:8-10 reminds us that we serve best when we love. All the ‘negative’ commands (and Christians are often known today more for what we are against than for the things we stand for) can be phrased positively and can be summed up in the words ‘whoever loves has fulfilled the law’ (Rom 13:8). Our challenge is to find ways to serve our neighbours, showing them Christ’s love, fulfilling His commands to be salt and light to the world. Our obligation, as Paul has often reminded us, is not to the sinful nature but to God.