When I was a kid I did not pay much attention to politics. I grew up in the ’90s. Bill Clinton was our president and my parents were lifelong Republicans. There are only a handful of things I remember hearing my parents discuss regarding our president, but I do remember when the Monica Lewinsky story broke; my parents were not happy about the scandal. But what I remember most that my parents taught me in those days is that we respect those in authority over us, even if we do not agree with them.
In our world today it is not hard to round up evidence of a country that disrespects authority, from the NFL to what teachers deal with in classrooms every day. It seems as though this respect for an office has been deemed outdated or perhaps just irrelevant. But there is one story that stands out in the midst of the disrespect: A young man who chose to climb out of his hospital bed and stand in the presence of his president.
Thomas Gunderson was one of the victims in the horrific Las Vegas shooting earlier this month. Gunderson was shot in the leg, directly in his calf muscle. He explained in an interview that the bullet went directly through his calf muscle but “didn’t hit an artery [or] bone.” He added that “the nerves and muscles are pretty torn up.” A video shows an amazing act of courage as Gunderson braced himself on his hospital bed and stood out of respect for the leader of our country — even after Mrs. Trump had told him to sit down.
I will never lie down when the President of this great country comes to shake my hand! There may be plenty of issues in this country but I will always respect my country, my president and my flag. Shot in the leg or not, I will stand to show my President the respect he deserves!
Posted by Thomas Gunderson on Wednesday, October 4, 2017
In a Facebook post explaining why he stood, Gunderson made it clear that the act had nothing to do with who the president was — he stood for the office President Trump represents. He explained his political affiliations, but added that he would have stood for Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton “or any other past president.” He noted that “It is not about Donald Trump, It’s about the fact that, that man holds the highest position in this country and I believe it’s an honor that he came to see me.”
This young man’s courage is noteworthy because, whether he knew it or not, he was living out the commands of Romans 13, which tells Christians what to do even if we are unhappy with those in charge of our government. It may be tempting to think that things are worse today than they were when Paul wrote this letter. However, history shows us otherwise. Nero reigned as emperor of Rome and his abuse of Christians was worse than anything most Americans can imagine. Nero blamed the burning of most of Rome on Christians “whom he indiscriminately and mercilessly crucified.” During gladiator matches, Nero “would feed Christians to lions, and he often lit his garden parties with the burning carcasses of Christian human torches.” If God called those Christians to submit to such a wicked ruler — and sustained them through it — He can equip us to submit to the leaders we have today.
Romans 13 begins, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Paul’s instructions to us are very black and white. If anyone holds authority over you, it is only because God put that person there. We have the freedom in our country to be involved in choosing our leaders, but make no mistake, God is the one who gives each elected official his or her authority. God has the power to take down any leader, and can chose to change any person’s position at any time. And He can use even the most wicked of leaders to accomplish His will.
The chapter continues in verse two by reminding us, “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” The reason, Paul goes on to explain, is that “rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval.” Those in authority are “God’s servant, for your good.” On the other hand, if you chose to disobey, remember that those God has placed in authority serve as avengers who carry out “God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”
For these same reasons we “pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” God has placed people in each of these positions and gives us the responsibility to respect what God has ordained.
Whether we agree with every political leader, police officer, teacher, or coach, we are still given the command to live peaceably with everyone. We have to teach our children to respect authority and have a clear conscience before God.
***A Go Fund Me page has been established for Thomas Gunderson to help cover his medical expenses and time off of work.***