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Summary: Submission to authorities has always been a touchy subject. Our mandate is to represent Christ to the world, and part of that mandate is to be in prayer for the people God has put in authority over us.

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SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITIES

ROMANS 13:1-8

HISTORY HAS SHOWN THAT THERE IS AN ADVERSE REACTION TO PEOPLE WITH AUTHORITY. IT WOULD SEEM THAT ORDERS ALWAYS COME FROM THE TOP TO THE BOTTOM, WHILE REACTION TO THE ORDERS FROM BOTTOM TO TOP.

THIS BEGINS AT A VERY EARLY AGE AND CAN CONTINUE ALL THROUGH OUR LIVES. IT CAN BE SEEN IN ALL WALKS OF LIFE.

I REMEMBER HOW INDEPENDENT MY LITTLE NIECE WAS AS A CHILD. WHEN SHE WAS TRYING TO DO ANYTHING SHE WOULD SAY, “I CAN DO IT ALL MY BYSELF”. IN SHORT SHE WAS SAYING I DON’T WANT ANY HELP. SHE NOW HAS A GIRL OF HER OWN WHO IS JUST THE SAME WAY.

JUST AS THE DESIRE TO ATTAIN INDEPENDENCE FOSTERS THIS NEGATIVITY TOWARDS AUTHORITY FIGURES WHEN YOUNG, THE DESIRE TO MAINTAIN INDEPENDENCE CAN FOSTER ANIMOSITY TO THOSE IN AUTHORITY WHEN WE ARE OLDER. THINGS WE COULD DO WHEN WE WERE YOUNGER, WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO DO NOW WITHOUT ASSISTANCE, AND IT FOSTERS THE IDEA OF LOSING SELF-WORTH. MANY TIMES I HAVE HEARD IN VISITS TO NURSING HOMES RESIDENTS WHO FEEL “I’M SUCH A BURDEN TO PEOPLE NOW.”

NEGATIVE ATTITUDES TO THOSE IN AUTHORITY START WITH THE SIMPLEST OF COMMANDS. “CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM”, “YOU DON’T LEAVE THIS TABLE UNTIL YOUR VEGETABLES ARE GONE. YES THAT INCLUDES YOUR TURNIP.” “GET YOUR HOMEWORK DONE.”

THERE IS NEGATIVITY TOWARDS TEACHERS, THOSE IN OTHER PROFESSIONAL OCCUPATIONS, LINEUPS AT CHECKOUTS, DOWN TO ENTERTAINMENT. WHEREVER WE LOOK, THERE IS AN ANIMOUSITY TO THOSE IN AUTHORITY OVER US.

IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT WE WANT TO BE THE PEOPLE IN AUTHORITY. WE WANT TO BE THE ONES GIVING THE ORDERS, MAKING DECISIONS. WE WANT TO BE THE ONES PEOPLE LOOK UP TO AND WE ARE SO SURE THAT WE CAN DO A MUCH BETTER JOB THAN THE ONE WHO WAS THERE BEFORE US SO THAT THE ANIMOSITY ISN’T THERE WITH THOSE WHO WORK FOR US, AS IT WAS IN THE PAST. ON OCCASION THIS MAY BE THE CASE, BUT NOT AS A RULE.

EVEN THE DISCIPLES WANTED TO BE IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY. JAMES AND JOHN MADE THE REQUEST TO BE JESUS’ AUTHORITY FIGURES WHEN HE SETUP HIS KINGDOM. MATTHEW RECORDS THAT THEY SENT THE MOST AUTHORITATIVE FIGURE IN THE WORLD, THEN AND NOW, TO MAKE THE REQUEST OF HIM. THAT’S RIGHT THE MOST AUTHORITATIVE PERSON IN THE WORLD. THEY SENT THEIR MOTHER. I TELL YOU WHEN MY MOTHER TOLD ME TO JUMP, I WOULD ASK HOW HIGH ON THE WAY UP?

MATTHEW 20:20-22: 20 THEN THE MOTHER OF ZEBEDEE’S SONS CAME TO JESUS WITH HER SONS AND, KNEELING DOWN, ASKED A FAVOR OF HIM. 21 “WHAT IS IT YOU WANT?” HE ASKED. SHE SAID, “GRANT THAT ONE OF THESE TWO SONS OF MINE MAY SIT AT YOUR RIGHT AND THE OTHER AT YOUR LEFT IN YOUR KINGDOM.

JESUS WAS REALLY UNDER PRESSURE. JESUS DEALS WITH RELIGIOUS LEADERS, PHARISEES, AND SADUCEES ALL THE TIME, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO SAYING NO TO A MOTHER, WHAT IS THE SAYING, HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE THAT OF A MOTHER DENIED.”

JESUS ALSO IN HIS ANSWER GAVE THE COST OF AUTHORITY WHEN HE SAID:

MATTHEW 20: 24-28:

WHEN THE TEN HEARD ABOUT THIS, THEY WERE INDIGNANT WITH THE TWO BROTHERS. 25 JESUS CALLED THEM TOGETHER AND SAID, “YOU KNOW THAT THE RULERS OF THE GENTILES LORD IT OVER THEM, AND THEIR HIGH OFFICIALS EXERCISE AUTHORITY OVER THEM. 26 NOT SO WITH YOU. INSTEAD, WHOEVER WANTS TO BECOME GREAT AMONG YOU MUST BE YOUR SERVANT, 27 AND WHOEVER WANTS TO BE FIRST MUST BE YOUR SLAVE—28 JUST AS THE SON OF MAN DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE, AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR MANY.”

JESUS ANSWER HERE IS THE KEY COMPONENT IN SUBMITTING TO THE AUTHORITY OF OTHERS. JESUS DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE AND IF WE ARE TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST, AS PAUL TEACHES IN ROMANS 8, THEN WE HAVE TO PRACTICE THIS AS WELL, AS MUCH AS BIBLICALLY POSSIBLE. THE BIBLE WILL DETERMINE WHAT WE ARE TO SUBMIT TO.

IT IS EASY TO GET SIDETRACKED WHEN DEALING WITH THIS ISSUE. WE ARE TEMPTED TO APPLY PAUL’S TEACHING TO VARIOUS SPECIFIC SITUATIONS, AND EACH OF THESE HAS ELEMENTS THAT NEED TO BE DEALT WITH AND THEY CAN LEAD US FURTHER FROM PAUL’S REAL PURPOSE. PAUL’S PURPOSE WAS ONE THEACHING THAT WE CAN APPLY TO ANY SITUATION.

LETS LOOK AT THE PASSAGE NOW.

ROMANS 13:1-2:

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. 2 CONSEQUENTLY, WHOEVER REBELS AGAINST THE AUTHORITY IS REBELLING AGAINST WHAT GOD HAS INSTITUTED, AND THOSE WHO DO SO WILL BRING JUDGMENT ON THEMSELVES.

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