Listen. There are times in my life, as I look back over it, that God just has me in a whole season of learning on one subject or another. There have been semesters of patience, of grace, of discipline, of love, of faith… I could go on, but you get the point. It just so happens that the classes in session in this phase of my life are on authority.
Don’t get scared just yet. Believe me, the word is the least scary part. Hear me out and then decide if I have gotten off track.
Authority has been beaten to a pulp in the world we live in. We are all like Miriam and Aaron when they whispered against Moses. They said, “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” We don’t need no stinking authority. We are more capable than anyone of making decisions for ourselves. We are all created equally after all…why should there be authority?
We have raised a generation of rebellious adults. We have wandered far, far, faaaaaarrrrr from the structure that God set up. So far that I tremble to write what I am about to write because I know how incorrect politically that it really is. But nonetheless, I want to share what God is doing in me, so that, by some chance, it can help one marriage, one parent, one employee…
I recently was awestruck by how rebellious I am when it comes to the authority that God has placed in my life. Oh no, I’m not obviously rebellious in any way, but inside, I often reject or question anything and everything that I am told. “Don’t tell ME what to do. Who do you think YOU are?”
I can link most of it to distrust…to things I have experienced from authority figures growing up…to a protection of myself, but the Bible leaves little room for excuses as to WHY we aren’t trusting God by submitting to God given authority and it is very clear about the consequences.
And let’s be honest…real, “stop dead in your tracks” honest…if we aren’t submitting ourselves to the system of authority that God has placed on this earth, we aren’t submitting ourselves to God. Now hang with me here…cause this is a really hard word, and I feel that hesitation even in myself. Authority is abused on a regular basis. Authority is often prideful and self centered and unjust and unfair. Authority can be the furthest thing from godly that is possible on this earth. True. But do we trust God?
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” Romans 13:1
“Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” I Samuel 15:23
True that sometimes we must disobey authority to obey God…this is a very real possibility in the broken world we live in, but if you are familiar with the instances of this in the Word, you will notice that even in the disobedience there was a sense of humility, some sense of acknowledging the authority.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:18
Notice Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenigo did not say “You aren’t any king of ours.” Instead they acknowledged his place of authority, but noted that they were bound to submit to a higher law than his.
But I don’t want to get off track because this is really a series of lessons if you ask me and I have something different to say on this subject. So let’s bring it down to the every day challenges…
“But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” I Corin 11:3
And all the feminist’s heads have just exploded. Do we trust God enough to trust that His Word works? This is what I had to ask myself as I found myself questioning my authority at every turn. Do I trust God enough to practice His Word…no holds bar…to the fullest extent?
I have a problem with authority. Particularly for me…probably because I don’t work for anyone right now as an employee and I AM the parent…it shows up with my husband. I often do not trust his decisions and rarely ask for his input. I have become conscious of an automatic questioning of him. And when God first started dealing with me in this area, I realized that this has become such an ingrained habit that if I try NOT to question, to take over, or to “humble” him in some way, I feel like I am going to EXPLODE inside. REBELLION is bewitching.
We live in an age where this is perfectly normal and acceptable. In fact, women are encouraged to rebell…encouraged to “stand up for themselves”…encouraged to compete with men. We can do everything men can do and we can do it better. And we don’t feel a bit convicted because we are just putting an end to the oppression of women. And to be sure, there is and has been oppression throughout the ages. Authority is often abused for it’s own gratification. God gifted man with authority and man has been an awful steward of power. But God also said this…
“I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them. For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free.” Deuteronomy 32:35-36
Noone is getting away with anything and you have your work cut out for you if you are going to convince me that God does not take serious offense when His children, especially the ones walking in vulnerable humility and submission, are wronged.
But we, of course, as only seems logical, have taken vengeance into our own hands. We are going to make authority pay. We are going to kill it. Make it obsolete. Authority to us equals oppression and we want to be FREE. We have become like rebellious teenagers when it comes to respect and submission. We know it all and we know it better. Don’t need anybody telling us what to do.
I’m serious. I have a real problem in this area and I can’t help but think we have a prevelant one in our “Christian” societies…and since authority has been kicked out of the Church even (when is the last time you heard about “church discipline” in a positive light…or even at all?), is it any wonder that the world is on a collision course with hell?
So I asked God, “What can I do about this?” I was not progressing in my own strength, just getting more frustrated. Every time I would consciously try to submit to the authority that God has placed in my husband, I would feel everything inside me stand back up with excessive force…I mean, “punch him in the face” excessive force. I have a serious problem.
The day that I prayed this, I was wandering aimlessly through the Scriptures after my regular devotion reading and for some reason became focused in right away on I Corin 11. The first part of this chapter is about head coverings for women when they pray or prophesy. I almost laughed out loud, but I knew right away that God was serious with me. He wasn’t playing. So I delved into the subject of head coverings…one that the church has long thrown out as cultural. Only I could not find a logical cultural explanation…even in the commentaries…and I spent all night trying…believe me. As a matter of fact, the covering of a woman’s head during gatherings of prayer and worship began to make much sense to me. Especially when I read this part…
“A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.” I Corin 11:7-10
Many commentaries noted that this phrase “because of the angels” has been studied to mean that this covering is a sign to the angels (both in heaven and fallen) whether a Christian woman is submitted to God’s authority structure or not.
Scared yet? I was. This was a huge thing for God to ask of me. I already feel self conscious enough as it is. But I asked myself… “Am I just going to continue to SAY I trust God? Am I just going to continue to SAY I believe His Word is the answer for all of life’s problems? Or am I going to LIVE it?” I have to choose LIVING it.
So for the last three weeks or so, I have worn a covering on my head to worship service. Not out of legalism, but out of a sincere desire to obey Scripture in all things and to trust the God whose ways are perfect. And every single time I have laid that covering on my head, I have almost wept with humility and repentence. It is a reminder of my rebellious heart. There has been a cleansing going on within me as I open ALL of me up to the Lord’s plan, not just the parts that I am comfortable with. I choose HIM. I choose every jot and tittle of His Word.
And guess what, I have been more aware of the joy and relief and safety of placing yourself under God’s structure of authority. I have found it much easier to keep my mouth closed when I disagree with my husband which leads to so much more peace in our family unit. I have found a love and support and encouragement for authority figures in my life and even just around me who are facing the onslaught of the enemy as he tries to corrupt one more. I have tensed up as I see how really and truly rebellious our society has become and how “submission” and “respect” have become “judgmental” words.
God’s plan, His structure…it is beautiful and it is perfect. A broken world has made it unrecognizable, but it hasn’t changed the Word of God and the way that God works. When we submit ourselves in the fear of God to our authority on earth, things go on in the heavens on our behalf…things that we could never work out for ourselves.
And because I just haven’t shocked you far enough with my edgy post, I leave you with this mystifying passage of Scripture…
“11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” I Peter 2
How much do I really trust God?