Can we appeal?

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Hey, thanks again for sending in questions related to our recent sermons. As you know, we’re wrapping up our exile series. We’re coming close to the end of it. In this last week, we talked about witnessing, sharing our faith while in exile, and that being in exile specific, specifically, if we’re under some kind of persecution conditions, actually creates an opportunity to share our faith, but only if we respond in the way that we are commanded to respond in scripture, which is to submit to the authorities over us, to rejoice under any kind of persecution or suffering, to bless those who persecute us, and finally, to keep doing the right thing ourselves.

It’s a challenging task, but we see people in scripture do exactly that in the effect that it had on the community coming to faith.

So the question this week is, given those four commands, what we have to do, submit, rejoice, bless, continue in righteousness ourselves. Can we appeal if we are under some type of persecution? If a school or a church is being forced to hire people that would be counter to their beliefs, can the church or the Christian school, maybe Christian higher education, stand up and say, hey, wait a minute, we’re not going to hire this person? Could that school go through the court system to appeal? Is that in some way not submitting?

And the answer is, I think we see in scripture even that people do go through the established power structures, the established governments, court systems to do exactly that. An appeal. Paul gets arrested in acts 22, and he’s about to get scourged, and he says, hey, are you guys allowed to do this to a roman citizen? And they’re like, oh, whoa, sorry, we didn’t realize you’re a roman citizen. And so then they didn’t scourge him.

Or the same thing similarly happens in the Book of Esther. Esther goes to the king and makes a request on behalf of her Jewish people. Going through the system that is established to appeal is part of submitting to the system. In both of those cases, though, we don’t see really Esther complaining about what may or may not happen to her or even what may happen to her people. She says, I’m going to go make this request, and if I perish, I perish, right?

We don’t see her rejoicing. I hope she did. But the command in that situation would be to rejoice and even bless those who are persecuting you. Or similarly, Paul. What if it hadn’t worked out for him when he got arrested and he was about to be scourged and he said, hey, are you allowed to do this?

To a roman citizen. What if they had said, well, we don’t really care, we’re going to beat you anyway? Paul’s response in that case would still be the rejoicing, blessing those who persecuted him and continuing to do the right thing himself. So it seems like, yes, appealing within the system is part of submitting to the system and is not counter to that. But what we can’t do, what would be a violation of what we are commanded to do, is either try to overthrow the established order, right?

Or to complain to grumble about the persecution that we’re under because we’re commanded to rejoice and even bless those who are persecuting us. So I hope that’s helpful. Thanks for sending in the question.