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.Romans 13:1-5 NIV
Do you ever find yourself questioning authority? Isn’t it super easy to find the flaws or loopholes with rules? It could be simple stuff like “the speed limit is designed to be safe in all conditions, but traffic is light so it’s no big deal if I go a little faster.”
The problem with this is that it’s not how God intended it.
Did you know that at the time of this scripture writing the Jews were under the authority of the Roman ruler Nero? He was a bad dude toward Christians. Yet this scripture still tells us to submit to authority. How do we reconcile that decree when we know those in charge do not have God’s interest at heart? I think it’s simple, maybe authority isn’t about what a particular rule or ruler is asking of us, but about the who behind it. Not the immediate who, the ultimate who, God. If we submit to the proper authorities in our life, then we’re really just submitting to God’s will. Which ultimately is what we signed up for when we became followers of Jesus. You know, that whole, ‘not my will but Your will’ thing? If we can’t be faithful in the little things, how will we learn to be faithful in the bigger stuff?
It’s kinda backwards to our American culture I know, but if you try to look at it through the lens of just a humble servant of Christ, it’s easier to see. I think our natural inclination is to evaluate each individual request upon us, and then decide if we think it’s worth following or “fair”. But that logic relies on us to make the call, and our decisions can be biased, and change with circumstances or mood. But if we put aside our own judgement, we shine a light that people around us see, that points to God rather than us. As an added bonus, when we follow this principle, it helps us grow in our faith. I always say the best leaders are the best followers.
So the next time you find yourself questioning some authority, try to remember the ultimate “Who” and not so much “the what” is being asked of you.