One of the beauties of blogging is one can share thoughts that may be developing, so that they are not entirely thought through. And can have some improving or even correcting that can come in this process both individually and in community. Thoughts by nature, even theologically, should be open to revision for improvement, as we try better to say (maybe for our time and place) what God has revealed to us in Jesus and in Scripture.
Resisting the powers is with reference to thinking through our relationship, as the Jesus community, to nations and governments, said to have a God-given calling and authority in the world (see Romans 13). Many Christians in our nation are prone to a more or less strong nationalism based on an idealistic view and notion of our (the United States) founding as a nation. While we see, in many places in the world, Christians "up against it", having to live out their faith under authorities who, contrary to God's calling to them, make Christianity illegal or push it to the fringes (and beyond) as to what is acceptable and good for their society.
In Scripture we note that Jesus said that his kingdom is not of this world. That it is from another place not of this earth (John 18). But that his kingdom, by his Person and words and work, and by his people, is present in this world. Inherent in that, and gathered from the New Testament as well as early Christianity, is the proclamation that "Jesus is Lord". Which flew in the face of what was believed then in the empire: "Caesar is Lord."
Paul accepted and used his Roman citizenship. But, like Daniel, he refused to bow his knees to the Emperor. He continued to proclaim the kingdom of God in Jesus until the end of his days. Do note, in Daniel's case, that he even served as a government official. But part of Daniel's proclamation, in his day, was that the Most High God is King of kings and Lord of lords. So, he too, I say, resisted the powers, as God has called all of us, his people, to do.
We are to honor those in power, at least with reference to their office and calling from God. And in terms of whatever honor they deserve. We are to pay taxes to them for their work of governing. But we are to resist them, whenever they impose laws on us, that contradict "the Jesus creed": loving God with our whole being and doing, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Obeying this "creed", means sharing the message of the gospel, that message being Jesus himself: the salvation and kingdom that is found in him.
When we may have to resist them, we need, like Martin Luther King, Jr., to do so as those of another kingdom, not of this world. As followers of Jesus, who taught us to bless those who curse us, and to repay evil with good. Resisting the powers is a vanquishing of them, in the power of the Spirit, by the blood of Jesus, proclaiming him, and by our own testimony, and it may even mean martyrdom (Revelation 12).
But in our country, and in western democracies (or the like of them, elsewhere), how do we resist the powers? We ought to be thankful to God for the good of our countries and our government, and in a certain sense, we can be patriotic. But we must avoid being nationalistic, in the sense of seeing our identity as steeped in being American or German or whatever. This is so, because our identity is in Jesus and in the kingdom of God. We are a holy nation (1 Peter), scattered all over the word as the Jesus community. We think of ourselves as Christians who happen to be American, or German, or whatever. But our chief citizenship is in heaven, as Paul himself, a Roman citizen, said (Philippians).
Jesus, We bow to you as Lord. Let us live and proclaim you and your Father's kingdom. Give us strength to be your servants in this world in whatever sphere you call us to. And give us discernment and strength to resist the powers when their call usurps your lordship, blatantly or subtely. By your Spirit and in your love. Amen.