Who’s in Charge?: Rebelling Against God?

“Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:2)

Yesterday, I mentioned my initial resistance to the big idea—the biblical truth—that every authority is established by God. We immediately think of the worst examples of national leaders in history, evil men who did evil to their people. But I can accept the idea that God uses evil men to accomplish his good purposes, especially in the history of nations (and especially in places I never lived).

charge_350My next objections to these truths begin when I start thinking beyond the authority of governments. If rebellion against any authority is rebellion against God, then what about my parents, that unfair local official, or my supervisor at work? What if the person whose authority I’m under is not a good person?

It’s not a popular idea, but Paul wants us to get that all authority flows from God. It’s the way God chooses to exercise his will in our world, even when the authority is a person of questionable character. The choice to submit (or not) to a person in a position of legitimate authority over me is a choice to submit (or not) to a loving, powerful, and good God.

(Yes, we’ll get to the exceptions, but they happen far less frequently than we usually imagine.)

Think: Do you practice conditional submission to authorities based on whether their directions make sense to you—or whether they’re good people? How can you square that with what Paul is teaching here?

Pray: Ask God to help you to humble yourself under his authority by humbling yourself under the authority of those he has put in leadership in your life.

Do: Make a quick list of the people in your life who have positions of legitimate authority over you.