Responding to Authority
13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For 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, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
When it comes to children, there is one word they seem to like more than any other. Parents you will be able to sympathize with me on this one… NO! From a very young age they can say it. And, I believe, from an even younger age, they know what it means. Before they can even speak, you can see that defiance in their eyes as you instruct them. NO! Come here please. NO! Eat your food. NO! Stop hitting your brother. NO! Go clean your room. NO! They test you with that one word. They get punished for that one word. They make you lose your mind with that one word. From a very young age we humans, with our sinful nature, struggle with obedience to all types of authority in our lives.
We could spend page upon page talking about authority. How do we follow authority if that authority isn’t following God? How do we follow authority when we disagree with their decisions? What if I am an authority? I’ve been hurt by authority. I don’t like the authority I’m supposed to be following. There is situation upon situation where it is a struggle to follow the authority placed in our lives.
I don’t want to talk about those.
Those are all very real situation and often difficult to navigate through. But following authority isn’t about only following when people deserve to be followed. Following authority is about following God. It’s about keeping Him first and foremost as the authority you follow in your life. If you seek His will, His direction, and His word, you’ll find that following the other authorities in your life in a way that honors God, while still might be incredibly difficult, can be done. When you can look at the bigger picture and see the One who created authority, the One who created the world, is the One you need to be following, it makes honoring authorities here on earth much more possible (and it’s good to keep in mind: temporary). When you keep Christ as your authority, you’ll find that all those questions mentioned earlier become a little easier to navigate through. The Bible tells us in Romans 6:16 “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[a] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
You are either a slave to God or you are a slave to sin. There is no in between. Wouldn’t you much rather be a slave to God than a slave to sin? Wouldn’t you much rather follow Him knowing He is in control OF EVERYTHING, than follow your own version of right and wrong? Are you following God as the final authority in all things in your life? Are you seeking Him and His Word in following any and all authority He has placed over you? What’s your response to authority?