Festus, after he had conferred with his council, replied, “You [Paul] have appealed to the emperor; to the emperor you will go” Acts 25:12
When we think of the Roman Empire and early Christianity, we may think of brutal oppression that pitted lions and fearsome gladiators against frail people of faith. There is no doubt that Roman persecution of the church was a fact of life for the first Christian people—a reality that might make this text all the more remarkable. It was Roman authority that preserved Paul’s life against the death plots of the Jews, and it was the Roman justice system that completed Paul’s mission by sending him to Rome. How amazing to think that Paul’s ministry was carried to Rome by the Roman authorities themselves!
Clearly God is able to use the powers and principalities of this world—either wittingly or unwittingly—to accomplish God’s aims. The same empire that brutally tried to crush the little Jewish sect that followed Jesus was the very force behind the spread of Christianity throughout the world. Even empires find themselves ultimately under God’s authority.
Where is God at work in the ruling powers of the world?
Lord, we tend to think governments are corrupt, uncaring, and incompetent. But You, Lord, remind us that You can use the messiness of this world to further Your desires for us. Perhaps that means that You can even use the messiness of my life for the good of those around me. Imagine that! In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.