[S]o many … dedicated people, having no one but themselves to save themselves, end up disillusioned … They are disillusioned because they started out with a great illusion. For them there is no sinner or no sin …
Paul ends his letter to the Romans with some greetings and closing words. This shows us how important it was for him to stay connected with other Christians – and how important it should be for us as well.
Certainly, much division has been caused by people who depart from essential doctrines or beliefs. Often, however, these divisions are over petty things that need not matter at all – mere opinions, with no solid biblical basis. How are we to relate to others who live out their faith in ways that look a lot different from our own? Paul answers that question in Romans 14.
What was the attitude of the apostles toward the Roman government? Did they organize themselves into rebellious militias? Did they become angry misfits like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski or Timothy McVeigh? Here in Romans 13, a chapter written to the churches in Rome, we’ll read first hand what Paul actually taught regarding a proper attitude towards the government. As it turns out, it was not very controversial.
I like the game of football, but I’ve never been any good it. I can sit in front of a TV and know a good play or a good player when I see one. I play fantasy football with some guys here in the church. Last year they got me into two different leagues – and I won one of them – first place out of ten teams! But I can’t really play the game. Too slow, too small, bad hands – I stink at it.
Some people are like that with their Christianity. They are fantasy disciples. They watch other people live out their faith and have opinions – sometimes very strong opinions. They know how it should be done and whether or not someone is doing it right. They know good Bible teachers from bad ones, good churches from bad ones and so on. But they personally stink at discipleship.
In the body of Christ there are no fantasy disciples. We each have a position to play and we have to get into the game.