The commander brought Paul inside and ordered him lashed with whips to make him confess his crime. He wanted to find out why the crowd had become so furious. When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer standing there, "Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't even been tried?"
When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked, "What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!"
So the commander went over and asked Paul, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?"
"Yes, I certainly am," Paul replied.
— Acts 22:24-27 NLT
Paul knew that government officials could be corrupt and abusive. Still, both he and the apostle Peter wrote about respecting authorities. They emphasized the importance of obeying those in authority, living good lives as followers of Jesus and as citizens, and being ready to suffer for doing good if necessary.* History and tradition tell us that both Paul and Peter died as martyrs. However, they used their legal rights and opportunities to protect their freedom and ministries when they could. They also didn't want the name of Jesus or his followers burdened with the stain of being political rebels. They called disciples to respect, honor, and obey unless the government's intrusion conflicted with the clear call of Jesus. Can we do less in our turbulent, polarized, and social-media-interconnected world and still claim to follow Jesus?
O Father, I know that you value life from conception to death.^ You hold each person as precious. You want no person to be abused because of his or her race, gender, or social standing. In our politically strident world of such deep animosity and division, please help us find a way to look past the flawed people in politics. Empower us to hang on to the most important values to us as followers of Jesus so that we can help to redeem our culture. We need your leading, Holy Spirit, so that we can be salt to a culture in decay and light to a world of increasing darkness.^^ We ask for your help, O LORD. In Jesus' name. Amen.