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Why Submit to Authority?

I don’t like being told what to do.

Even when it is best- it’s still a hard pill to swallow.

Can you relate?

Submission isn't easy, especially for those who like to be in control.

Admittedly, I am one of those people, highlighted by my earned nickname of “Little General” (translation: assertive with a natural inclination to command.)

As you can imagine, my time in the military was quite an adjustment; learning how to TAKE orders (being told what to do, how to do it and when) was a challenging process!

Here’s what I learned about submission:

It is a choice.

It carries consequences.

It can be a source of strength, protection, and even peace.

In Romans 13:1-5, the Apostle Paul discusses submission:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those, who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right, and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

Paul concludes that submission is a matter of conscience- a choice and that ALL authority is established by God.

He also stresses that when we submit to authority, we avoid judgment and negative consequences.

More importantly, when we willingly surrender to man's rule, we are, in essence, obeying the administration set in place by God.

Cliff notes:

Obey established authority means obeying God

and avoiding negative consequences.

So what does true submission look like? Answer: CHRIST.

The ultimate example of picture-perfect meekness and submission is found in Jesus.

Don’t let the adjective of meekness deceive you- meekness is strength under control.

Consider, Jesus willingly submitted to the control of man when he remained silent through much of the cruelty he suffered before his cruxificition. He broke his silence only when Pilate asked him, “Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you.” Jesus’ response: “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” ~John 19:10-11

In this passage, Jesus confirms that man's authority is indeed established and given by God. The passage also provides us a pristine example of perfect submission- even unto death; submission to both God and established authority.

Tragically, society today tells a very different story- that submission to authority is wrong. It shouts that we are our own boss, we can make our own rules, we don't have to obey the laws and certainly don't need to listen to politicians or heed authority figures. Thus, we bash our political leaders, we challenge (and in some instances attack) our police, we shun our churches and blatantly disobey the law.

Oh, how foolish and wrong!

As Christians, we are called to be law-abiding citizens and to respect those that God has placed in authority positions. We should be examples of peacemakers and strive to throw-off our instincts of self-governance and rebellion.

Now, there are times that civil disobedience is warranted; however, they are only justified when man’s law is in direct contradiction to God’s law. We must weigh this decision of rebellion very carefully and act only as the Holy Spirit directs.

When we choose submission, our walk with Christ is strengthened and we are given the opportunity to display to the world a different response- one that reveals the acceptance of God’s ultimate authority in our lives. In turn, God provides us with His peace, provision, and protection.

Meekness is not weakness- it is completeness in Christ.

Father, thank you for the example of Christ and for giving us laws that protect us and provide order to our world. Help us to first live in submission to you and provide us with wisdom and discernment to obey man's authority. It is in submission that we can reflect our love and obedience to Christ.

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” ~1 Peter 2:13-25

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