Thursday, August 30, 2007

Submission to Authority

Our Father in Heaven has established a principle of submission to authority. From Adam and Eve forward we humans have resented and resisted authority wanting to do things our own way. We all would like to think that we can make decisions for ourselves and that we don't need to be controlled by another.

We hear from the world around us that if we allow ourselves to be dominated or ruled by another that we are emotionally weak and being victimized. It is probably why entrepeneurship is so desireable; the power to call your own shots and not submit to a boss. Children want to rebel against their parents leadership; motorists all around me rebel against the authority of government to set speed limits; we resist being bossed in any form or fashion. But, even when we do get to a position in which we can have control over certain decisions, we still find that others are under the control of another.

None of us is outside of authority. God established authorities on earth and commanded us to follow their leadership. 1 Peter 2:13-14 tells us, "submit yoursleves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men; whether to king as supreme authority , or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right". The point is re-emphasized in Romans 13:1 where we read, "there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."

What if the authority is unreasonable and harsh? There is evidence of the apostles choosing to go against authority in submission to a higher authority. No authority can force you to sin against God for God is the supreme authority. Now here is the kicker... 1 Peter 3:18-19 commands us, "slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God."

Our first verse gives us our purpose in submission... for the Lord's sake We may have a hard time submitting to unreasonableness or unkindness, but we do it not for the benefit of the unkind, but for the Lord's sake we submit to unjust treatment as his people.

I used to like Romans 8:28 because it gave me such hope that even in the midst of hardship that there was deliverance promised. Now, I can't read Romans 8:28 without reading the next verse which gives us the key to 28. Romans 8:28 -29: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed into the likeness of his Sond, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."

Does this mean that we are merely martyrs allowing others to dominate and control? Absolutely not! We are more than conquerors because we know that in serving these authorities, we are serving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Given what he endured for me, who am I to say that I will not bear with some unkindness or forgive some harshness? My every breath is in the hand of God. He is able to deliver if he desires, or he may choose to take me through the fire and walk with me and sustain me until on the other side of the trials, my character is more refined and I can shine more brightly for him.

We are being conformed into the image of Christ. God uses trials and grating personalities in our lives to sand off the rough edges of our character and to allow us to choose to put to death that old nature we like to cling to. If God is using a trial in my life or yours it is because he wants to make us more like himself. We can come alongside this effort of Gods by renewing our minds.
Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. "

This year I am trying to put into practice Philippians 4:8 in an effort to keep my mind renewed. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - thing about such things." Our Lord has been so good and kind to us to offer us salvation and to give us his Spirit to sustain and grow us. We have so many good things to ponder.

Another way I renew my mind is I dump any cares and concerns regularly before my Father. I ask for him to minister to those situations where I can do nothing else but stew and feel sorry for myself.

The last way I keep my mind renewed is to regularly grow in my knowledge of the character of God, by reading and studying the Bible. Did I mention that BBN Bible Institute is a great way to keep growing in the knowledge of our Lord? It is free and the teaching is excellent. Apart from the Holy Spirit himself, you will find no better instructors.

If you are struggling with submission to authority, talk with our Lord about it and search the Bible for his direction and his promises. Lamentations 3:22-26 promises us: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "the Lord is my portion; therefor I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

God Bless you as you seek him and as you serve him.

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