First used in 1914 the Panama Canal is one of the most strategic causeways in the world. The goal in building the Canal was to connect the Pacific to the Atlantic, bypassing Cape Horn and saving ships months of travel by going through the isthmus of Panama instead. This was a massive project that took years and 20,000 people died building it. Once completed, it shaved 5,000 miles off the journey.
A time lapse of a ship going through the canal makes it look like a fast process, but it takes a full day to cross through a series of locks. Each one fills up or empties gradually, acting as a watery elevator system moving the ship through the canal. It’s a slow, steady process, but it’s lifting massive, unliftable ships 85 feet over the continental divide.
In the same way that the canal took years to build and ships take a full day to pass through, our commitment must be for the long haul. Progress isn’t always visible. You’re in the process of growing, but you may not see it because it’s happening in real time. The work you’re doing is incremental and you must not lost heart.
We can’t be the church that expects instant Kool-Aid results when God’s working. We’re far more interested in the powerful work of lifting the unliftable – and that is something that can’t be rushed. Jesus is building something deep down that is powerful, robust and world-changing.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1–2
The way you respond to human authority you can see reveals your attitude toward your Heavenly Father that you can’t see. How you respond to people in authority shows whether or not you honor God who set that authority over your life. We have to recognize that – God is the author of authority.
“We will never be over those things that God has set under us until we learn to be under those things that God has placed over us. There is strength through surrender.” -Adrian Rogers
The power of this text, Romans 13, is not just the content but the context. This was written in the days of the reign of the emperor Caesar Nero. He hated the followers of Jesus so much he would have them routinely arrested, dipped in wax and set on fire in his garden to give ambience for parties he would throw. He burned Rome and murdered members of his own family.
Paul is living under the reign of Nero as he’s talking about obeying the governing authorities. So far as you’re not specifically told to do something sinful or illegal, you honor and are subject to the authority God has placed over you. If you resist authority because you don’t agree, you are resisting the authority God has appointed.
“Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” – I Samuel 15:23
If we have authority issues, what we’re really saying is we have a problem with God.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13–14
The Lord has kept in heaven a list of every sin you’ve ever committed. It’s a damning document if there ever were one. Talk about a smoking gun. Talk about irrefutable, undeniable evidence. Talk about every mouth will be stopped. You’re there on camera, committing the crime. There are witnesses to everything you’ve done. There’s no hope. There’s no help. There’s no saving yourself. But God took that list and nailed it to the cross of Jesus Christ at Skull Hill and His blood paid the price for every wrong thing.
His perfect life has been traded for your sinful life.
It’s called the Great Exchange. And that happened 2,000 years ago before you were even born. But having, in that moment, the ability to also see every moment, because God’s outside of time, He paid for all your sins. Even the ones you haven’t committed yet. When you receive salvation it’s a comprehensive salvation. You’re forgiven of what you haven’t even done yet.
Have you heard that phrase, frenemies? When I think of the word frenemy, I think of that old idea of the enemy of my enemy being my friend. If there’s someone you don’t like, but there’s someone you don’t like more, and that person that you don’t like also doesn’t like the person you don’t like more, than you can have a tactical alliance. You can come together and lay aside your differences. You can become friends with your enemy because of your real enemy.
I want to use that phrase in a different sense, and here’s what I want you to understand about your enemies here on this earth. The friend of your enemy is your God. Let that sink in. Think of an enemy in your life. Think of an enemy in any way. The enemy, that you have in your life, that person’s friend is God. Your God. The Bible says that Jesus is the friend of sinners. When our debts were being called for, the friend of sinners came instead. The friend of sinners is one of the most beautiful titles of Jesus.
Now we love that personally for us. Jesus is the friend of me, I’m a sinner. Yes, but the person who sinned against you, that you hate, He’s their friend, too. The friend of your enemy is your God. God wants to give forgiveness to you, and He wants forgiveness to flow through you, because He loves you and He wants your soul to be well.