I am currently in a teaching series that deals with rebellion and the importance of submitting to authority. Let me first admit that this series has been a struggle for me to preach because I don’t ever want to be that person who tells other people that they have to respect or submit to me. I just think that comes across weird, however scripture is clear that as believer we are called to submit and obey those in authority.
I remember one of my moms favorite stories of me from childhood was the time she left me in the care of my Grandmother while she went to work. We lived out in the country and had a long gravel driveway. My older brother and I loved to play with our tonka trucks in the gravel in our driveway, and before too long we would be right up against the major highway running in front of our house. We had no idea of the danger of being that close to the road. On this day my Grandmother who was growing very concerned with how close we were to the road walked out to the driveway and drew a line in the gravel with her foot and said don’t cross this line. Being the rebellious 3 year old that I was, no sooner did she sit back down on the porch swing did I get up and step over the line. Not only did I cross the line, I made sure she recognized my defiant rebellion to her authority by sticking out my tongue at her and putting my hands on my hips. I could have avoided a hard lesson on rebellion and submission to authority, not to mention a severe beating if I had only heard Romans 13:1 which says:
“Obey all the rulers who have authority over you. Only God can give authority to anyone, and He puts the rulers in their places of authority.”
This verse for me is both very simple as well as very complicated. We live in a society and culture today that is much like I was at age 3. Our culture drasticaly struggles with submitting and respecting authority both inside and outside the church. . We have a culture that embraces rugged individuality, and looks down on anyone who is in a position of authority. Think about it, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us struggle with respecting our bosses, or our teachers if we are teenagers. Now I will give it to you that many in positions of authority have used and abused their positions of authority, and in doing so have scarred many of us making it difficult for us to trust people in authority, however I believe that there is something deeper at work in our struggle with submitting to authority. At the core of our struggle with submitting to authority lies the reality that their position poses a threat to our ability to have complete control of our lives. As a society we want all the control that we can get. We have been conditioned to believe that we are the masters of our own universe, and in response we don’t want anyone else telling us what to do.
What makes this verse so simple is that there is no way to miss what this verse means, God is calling us to submit to those in authority and leadership over us. The complicated part of this verse is that is very hard to do. God is calling us to willingly choose to submit to those who are in authority positions over us. The sad reality is, that is not how most of us live our lives as Christ followers. Most of us will spend our lives fighting against authority, clawing our way to sit in the position of control of our lives. My generation is one that has a complete lack of respect and honor for those in authority positions. In fact my generation will argue that there should be no such thing as authority, that we are all free. My challenge with that view is Romans 13:1 which clearly says regardless of our view of a person in a position of authority, we are called to submit and surrender our will to their leadership. From that point God will deal with them if they choose to use or abuse their position of authority.
As parents how can we expect our children to respect and submit to our God given authority over their lives, if we don’t model for them how to submit to those in authority over our own lives? If we choose to trash our boss, or slam their teachers, both who hold positions of authority, why are we shocked when our kids don’t have respect or honor for us? Regardless of whether or not we like it, we are called by God, the one who created us, to submit to all authority, because it has be place there by Him.
So where are you at in submitting to those in authority? On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate yourself? In what areas do you struggle with submitting to authority, and how can you this week take some steps towards modeling for your kids, and those around you a life that is yeilded to God authority, and the authorities He has placed in our lives?