Father, take this cup from me?

Week beginning: 27th January, 2019 | By Natalie Johnson | Leeds

'Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established… he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted…'
Romans 13:1–2 (NIV, 1984)

'Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

Acts 4:18-20 (NIV, 1984)

If you are anything like me, I suspect that you try to obey the law as much as possible, and dislike the idea of breaking it. But what about where the requirements of the laws of the land and the requirements of God's law are different, and you can't obey both? As the UK moves away from its Christian heritage, this may become a growing issue. Perhaps there are already issues arising in your practice area or context?

Acts 4 would suggest that we need to obey God's law. But what if we are not clear on exactly what God's law requires? Daniel objected to his diet under the Babylonian regime, but not his new name or education (Daniel 1). The newly converted Naaman promised never to make burnt offerings or sacrifices to any god other than the LORD, but sought forgiveness for when his master bowed in the temple of Rimmon causing him to bow too (2 Kings 5:17–18). Jesus paid the temple tax so as not to offend (Matthew 17:24–27), but Peter and John do not seem to have been so concerned about offending when declaring their primary allegiance to God (Acts 4:18–20). It may be that different approaches are required in different situations. May God give us the wisdom (James 1:5) to know what honouring him looks like in our context.

Further listening: Mike Ovey – Keeping a clear conscience as a lawyer: Workplace ethics: where should we draw the line?

Prayer Points:

1. For the wisdom to know what to do, and the courage to do it.
2. For those facing a cost for obeying God, wherever they are in the world.
3. For robust and clear biblical teaching to equip the church in this generation.