Dear sisters and brothers of Calvin Church,
I’ve been interacting (digitally!) with several people this week, and the same subject has come up in a few different conversations: How am I responding to some of the decisions being made by those in authority? Am I outraged? When thinking about these conversations, I wondered if was a topic worthy of discussing in a devotional. Then, yesterday, Joseph Pollard shared a devotional post written by Rev. Todd Bordow, and OPC Minister laboring in the Houston area, and who preached in our evening service a couple of years ago. Pastor Bordow approached this subject from a perspective that was both convicting and encouraging, and I asked his permission to share his words with you:
Matt. 5:41 - "And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." Dear Congregation, it has been fascinating to watch Christians on-line look to the Bible for answers as to how to respond to the government’s requests, or orders, to stay at home, limit our gathering numbers, not work certain jobs, etc. Christians are looking to the Bible for answers to questions such as, “what if the government is ignoring our rights as Americans?” “What if the requests are unreasonable?” “What if the science they are basing their request on is faulty?” “What if this does more damage through economic disaster to people than the virus could ever cause?” What is fascinating is how many Christians ignore the most pertinent answer to our question in the Bible, which is our verse above in Matthew 5. The historical background to this is Roman law. Roman law gave authority to government agents to require any individual in the empire to carry a load or pack up to one mile on foot if commanded by a Roman official. You see the law in action in Matt. 27:32 “Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled him to carry his (Jesus') cross.” It was a very unpopular and hated law, for obvious reasons. In Matthew 5, Jesus is explaining how his new covenant people should be generous and giving. He explains that we should lend expecting nothing in return. And if anyone insults us, we should turn the other cheek and not insult in return. And if a government agent compels you to carry a load one mile, carry it two miles. Now this is obvious hyperbole, but you get the point. Unless the government is compelling you to sin, your generosity should even be extended to government when they compel you to do something difficult. Do you see the beauty in this? We do not have to become Constitutional, virology or economic experts to know how to respond to their requests. We do not need to know whether their request or law is an overreaction, reasonable, or even what the motive is behind the request or rule. We are clearly told how to respond in our passage. So let me offer you a modern translation. If the government compels you to stay at home one month during the virus; stay at home two months. Again, not literally, but learn the principle. Do not complain or rebel when the government compels you to do something. Instead, surprise them with your attitude of service and generosity, even going above and beyond what is requested. We know the basis for this unusual command from our Lord. We were saved to be like Christ. Christ went the extra mile for us. He left his Father’s throne to be born in a stable. He lived a perfect life in our place. He went the extra mile; he voluntarily offered himself to the Roman guards, to be beaten and then crucified for his people. He went the extra mile. He experienced punishment and death, so we could have everlasting life. He went the extra mile for us, and we did not deserve any of it. Yes, you are free to look for answers to the scientific, legal and economic questions many are grappling with. And you are free not to. But the Lord makes it easy. When compelled, go the extra mile, without complaining. Like Christ did for you. This brings your Heavenly Father great glory, as he sees his Son in you.
I hope you find these words from Pastor Bordow as much a blessing as I have.
Your brother and fellow struggler,
—Elder Robb Leatherwood