As believers we are to be subject to various authorities. I tend to have more than a little problem doing this, as is evidenced by my response to perceived dissatisfaction with my every day work, my big ideas for change, or my suggestions to others. In the immediate sense, I am talking about obeying supervisors at my job. Certain situations that come up periodically call for submission without argument. I have to say that during those times I feel the most peaceful when I just say, “Certainly.” Otherwise, I feel ill will, jealousy, and selfish ambition rising up which results in anxiety, fits of anger or pouting, and low self-esteem. Now I’m a therapist, so I should know better, right? Hey, even a king of Judah could not get this right.
King Saul failed to come under the authority of God and perform the one mission God gave him. Instead, Saul rationalized that he should listen to his army who were unwilling to follow God’s instructions. And to make matters worse, his fear of the people and his desperation to gain God’s forgiveness resulted in an impulsive attempt to grab hold of God’s prophet, Samuel, tearing his robe; thus, symbolically tearing away the kingdom from Saul, (I Samuel 15:24-30). Is it so large a stretch to believe that disobedience and defiance may result in loss of position and/or respect on my job?
What about my response to governing authorities in my community, state, or country? I heard myself telling my granddaughter the other day that if I ever get stopped for speeding going to work in the early morning hours, my license would probably be suspended. I’ve rationalized that going as fast as I drive is okay because there is little to no traffic at that hour on the roads that I travel. In truth, however, I scan my surroundings hoping to distinguish a police car from any other head or tail lights in sight (like I would recognize one, anyway). Are not governing authorities God’s instrument of judgment? What excuse could I give, if pulled over? Jeremiah 52:3, 27 describes King Zedekiah’s rebellion against the king of Babylon (Babylon was an instrument of God’s judgment against Judah). The outcome was obvious: “Then the king of Babylon struck them and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive from its own land.” – Seriously! I might even go to jail, come to think of it!
Now, I know that I am a child of God; and I am quick to say that I trust in Him to save me for His mercies’ sake (Psalm 31:14-16). Yet, am I taking God’s promises out of context? Do I claim the first half of Psalm 31:23 which says, “For the Lord preserves the faithful.” And do I disavow the second half which says, “And fully repays the proud person?” Isn’t it pride that lifts my heart above the law of the land? Romans 13:2-4 reminds us that “…whoever resist authority resists the ordinance of God…for rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil…for he [a ruler] is God’s minister to you for good…an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”
These are just a few examples of how my heart gets twisted up when I fail to crucify the flesh. Something is going to die…and should. The only way to change my ways is to set my eyes upon Jesus Christ. The result then, like my pastor has said, will be to experience the “holistic transformational work of the Holy Spirit motivated by love.” I will live a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). What a relief!
Father God and Christ my Lord, help me to look through the lens of the Gospel to all parts of my life – work, home, church, relationships – and submit all to Christ. I ask that You continue the work you have begun in me to do Your will on earth as it is in heaven. Speak to my heart that I may war against my flesh with my spirit and with the help of Your Holy Spirit. Let me not be ashamed and let my life be a testimony to Your great love.
All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.