I am currently reading a book called "Authority and Submission" by Watchman Nee. I have wanted a clearer understanding of God's view of the subject. In the past when one would ask me what it was all about (usually a woman with a worldly view) I would explain by using the example of military ranking. In the military there are generals, commanding officers and soldiers (among others-I am not fully familiar with). No one is more important to the mission than the others, but all are interdependant on one another. If the general isn't making the plans and calling the shots, no one would know what to do and there would be disorder and chaos. If many soldiers were left to make the decisions, there would no doubt be arguments and no one would accomplish anything. The general has communication abilities while the soldiers are on the field. They have not had enough vital information to make wise decisions.
The same is true for a family. There is an established order for the purpose of it functioning as a smooth running unit. If there is an established "head" then there is always one who oversees the needs and delegates for the home/family to run smooth and to progress.
The book I am reading is proving that all authority is established by God and showing just how important it is to the Lord that we see Him as the authority and all other authorities as "deputy authorities". The deputy authorities are accountable to God. God expects them to carry out their duties in a way that pleases Him. All of God's authorities are to model their roles after Jesus who was not "lording over them" but came to serve. He is the loving example. He laid down His life.
The problem that people have with the idea of authority stems from the sinful human nature of an authority not submitted to the One who established authority. (not to mention our own rebellious nature from our ancestors that doesn't want to submit to God) If one uses a postion of authority to manipulate those entrusted to him for selfish reasons, there is disorder and oppression. This is not what God designed, sin has caused His plan to malfunction. The question then is, how do those under authority respond when the authority is not acting in love and wisdom?
We know that if the one in authority tells us to do something that really opposes God we obey God and not men as in Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: (to the order to stop preaching) "We must obey God rather than men!" We wouldn't be expected to follow orders to harm someone, or commit a crime. What about other times?
In the book of 1 Peter, the 6th verse, Sarah is commended for obedience to her husband Abraham when he told her to lie and say that she was his sister instead of his wife (Genesis 12:10-20). In that case, Sarah had to make the call to obey her husband- trusting God in the circumstances that she would find herself in. (As God is the ultimate authority, she trusted that God would deal with the one He had put in charge of her-and God did come through as we know)In this story, Sarah honored God by submitting to her husband by showing she trusted God to care for her. She could have opposed him "God says not to lie, so I'm not gonna!!" But she chose to let God be the one to tell him that. Sarah chose to obey God by respecting her husband instead of opposing him. She knew that God was the one Abraham had to answer to ultimately and trusted that God would protect her.
The book also underscores that Jesus' ultimate purpose was to "do the will of the Father who sent him". This is paramount to God- that we are submissive to His authority. There are many stories in the Old Testament that highlight just how serious this is to God. The times that His anger was aroused were all due to rebellion. Korah, Dathan, and Abirim and their families were swallowed alive by the earth when they rebelled against Moses and Aaron and lead others into rebellion (Numbers 16). Mariam recieved leprocy for rebelling against God's authority in her little brother Moses (Numbers 12).
Kings Saul and David are great examples of the two different hearts towards God's authority. Saul had a rebellious heart and did his own thing and what a sad story it is, and David, though he fell into sin at times, always came back to God in repentance submitting to his authority and accepting whatever consequences the Lord gave him with humility. He had a tender heart. Saul had a hard heart.
In my next post I will write about the safety of authority for those who are submissive to God. Examples from my own life and those of my friends.
Father, thank you that you established authority to keep order in your plan for us. Help us to submit our hearts and lives to you, and trust you to meet our needs through those in authority over us. Help us discern your will in all situations by knowing your heart. In Jesus' name. Amen.