So, someone is telling you what to do (and you’re not a child, and he’s not your parent). The truth is, unless you are violating the law of God, the only thing that gives that person any authority over you is your agreement to grant him authoritative status. He has no true (“because I said so”) authority.
The lesson of scripture (I Cor. 7:21) is that we should avoid people and institutions that presumptively assume authority over us if we have the opportunity. We have no king but Jesus!
Nobody likes a bully, but we often find ourselves being bullied by people who make themselves out to be our superiors. A Christ-like response may dictate that we not make resistance to bullies our Priority One, but neither does our service for Him allow us to subordinate our fulfillment of His assignment to us as individuals to the artificial, extra-biblical demands of false authorities.
False authority is based on the idea that somebody owes you (the authoritative wannabe) something. Nobody owes you anything! Here in America, we live in a nation founded upon the premise that all men are created equal. That means that nobody is OVER anyone else. We need to believe it, and we need to act on it. There is no authority apart from God, and His Word tells us to owe no man anything but love.
How we let opportunities for service and development of our calling (our personal authority) dwindle and slip away when we don’t look up from the shuffling chain gang that we allow ourselves to be tied to!
Anytime someone cites a scripture that he says tells you to obey, to subordinate your will and your choices to the “higher authority” of someone else, that person is misquoting scripture to manipulate and enslave you! God NEVER asks that of us in scripture!
Oh, sure, certain scriptures can be cited that seem to say that in some translations, but consider the source. The King James, beloved for its beauty and familiarity, is among the worst versions in that regard. But consider that King James commanded his hired “translators” to misuse terminology so as to buttress his ungodly “divine right of kings” and “head of the church of England” positions, and read those passages with that manipulative and dishonest motive in mind, and you may find yourself open to finding a more honest translation of the Word of God.
What is the flavor and tenor of the scriptures regarding what we think of as “submission” and “obedience”? It is to allow ourselves to be influenced by those who are, in their walk with Him, closer to God (“higher”) – to wisely consider that what they have to say to us from their Godly perspective is worth hearing and heeding in our exercise of our divine right / responsibility of free will choices (which ALONE, not unthinking obedience, is glorifying to God). It is not a submission of our own right to make our own choices about our persons and our personal realms to a “higher authority,” to a command to submit the freedom of choice of our own will to that of another, but it is a natural recognition that a loving God uses other men who know Him better than we do now to lead us closer to Him. That is found in the idea of “obeying our elders” … that one who is elder in his walk with Christ is, thus, closer to God and that we should listen and not foolishly resist the wisdom of the elder.
This writer is not suggesting a libertarian rejection of all things authoritative – of the institutions of society that are there for our protection and for the mutual good of the community. (Though we would do well to know the difference between that which truly descends from the law of God and that which is binding upon us only by contract because we have mutually covenanted together for our own good. And I do not suggest that the New Testament does not say to honor civil authorities, but that we are to do so out of love and from the heart of a Christ-like example.) But know the difference between true “because I said so” authority that comes from God (in scripture, only parents are given that authority, and then only over their own young children) and the authority that we have resident within ourselves (but can give away to others by agreement) when we follow the Genesis 1:28 mandate.
Why bring all of this up now? Because, as referenced above, many believers live unproductive wishy-washy lives rather than standing up and exercising the authority that God has given to them in their individual callings. (In fact, doing that is actually sin, which we’ll discuss next time.) If all believers would seek to know their Creator and their Savior intimately and to find and follow the pathway that He programmed into them, this world would be a VERY different place!
Imagine 300 million Donald Trumps! He would instantly become very insignificant. As it is, he stands out, warts and all, for being bold enough to follow his calling seriously and with little apparent deviation caused by the sniping and catcalls of detractors. Why can’t we all be so heroic, but each in the area where God has gifted us individually? Why can’t we all be unswerved and undeterred by do-nothings who call us out for acting “un-presidential”?
Get to know the Word of God for yourself! Quit listening to those who authoritatively intone over you liturgical commands to march in lock-step or to sit down and shut up and not make waves! Make some waves! Just know that God is in it … because He’s in you … and you’re listening to His Holy Spirit (not to some “anti-whatever” who thinks he knows that the Holy Spirit quit speaking to men when the “canon of scripture” was complete)!