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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Get out of jail free?

He was drunk.

He was speeding – in fact, he was driving as fast as 80 miles-per-hour on city streets.

And his driving caused an accident that injured four people, and killed a 16-year-old girl.

So why did the police in Washington D.C. actually let him out of jail?

Because Gueorgui Makharadze was a foreign diplomat – and as such, the police had no choice but to let him go.

And if that doesn’t seem right, then you’ll understand why Paul wrote Ephesians 5:21-6:9.

Paul wrote at a time, you see, when some Christians were claiming “diplomatic immunity.”

“We are citizens of God’s kingdom,” they said in effect. “As such, we don’t need to obey any earthly law. And since God is the only legitimate authority, we are free to ignore all the rest– parents, police, spouses, masters, whatever!”

Like Gueorgui Makharadze, in other words, they thought rules, laws, and obligations were for other people – not them!

Of course, you can imagine how that went over in Roman society. The Romans were the mother of all control freaks, remember. Any slave who got out “uppity,” any child who got out of line, any woman who talked back to her husband – in short, anyone who challenged authority – could expect to pay the price.

And sometimes, they paid with their lives.

That’s why Paul wrote what he did; that’s why Paul told those wives, children, and slaves that following God didn’t always mean you had disobey everyone else. No, they were to “submit to one another,” said Paul, “out of reverence for Christ.”

Mind you, that’s not all Paul said – in fact, Paul spent more time in these verses talking to the people who exercised power than he did to the people who were supposed to obey it. And most of the husbands, parents, and slave-masters who read this letter would have needed to swallow hard before they accepted Paul’s advice.

Then too, Paul himself didn’t always do what he was told; that’s why he was writing this letter from prison!

“But just because you’re a Christian,” says Paul, “that doesn’t mean you get diplomatic immunity.”

I mean, even diplomats don’t always get diplomatic immunity!

No sooner did Gueorgui Makharadze get out of jail, for instance, than the State Department got on the phone, and asked his home country to waive his immunity.

They did.

And that’s why Gueorgui Makharadze is now in jail, doing time for manslaughter. He may have been working for another country, in other words, but that country still wanted him to obey our laws.

Just like it says in Ephesians.

Pastor Greg

And remember: “Prayer is not a substitute for taking up our rightful burdens” – John Carmody.


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