For order, there must be authority. For authority, there must be a hierarchy. For a hierarchy, there must be people at the top, people at the bottom, and people in between. Only God can rule over people with the perfect response of mercy and justice. This day will come, when Jesus returns in tangible form and establishes the New Heavens and the New Earth, reigning forever as the Lord of the lords.
Until then, people will hold positions of authority imperfectly. When people gain more authority, the temptation to misuse those under their authority heightens. It can happen to the best of us. In an extreme example, King David, known by God as the man after his own heart, misuses the authority that God had given him. Desiring the beautiful wife of one of his soldiers, King David summons Bathsheba to his chambers. She conceives. David then arranges to have her husband killed in battle to hide his sin and marry Bathsheba.
What do you do when people in positions of authority over you deal unjustly, inappropriately, or disrespectfully? I feel as though the issue of authority is so personal and complex that each person needs to seek God for wisdom and help in what they should do. He may want you to seek intervention, especially if you’re a teenager. I believe, however, that it is never His will that we avoid the issue of authority. Here are some things that I believe God has asked of me through my struggle with authority:
Do I really believe that God has ultimate control and that He is for me? My life belongs to Jesus and I want to follow Him faithfully. But I don’t know if I am trusting Him until my trust is tested. God knows which tests I need because He knows the areas I have wavering trust. He also knows that surrender to Him means freedom from oppression by man (emotionally and psychologically), deeper connection with Him, and a greater potential to be used by Him. It means the dying of the flesh and the ability to confront someone with respect.
Will I follow Jesus when it really counts (and hurts) and pray for my “enemies”? God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). He commands us to forgive our enemies – people who misuse us, mistreat us, or in some way hurt us. He says that if we love only our friends, we are not any different than nonbelievers (Matthew 5:46). We are to be children of God and forgive; He has given His spirit to enable this once we express willingness. Forgiveness also heals us and frees us from the past.
Will I submit to God and allow Him to change me, strengthen me, or change my circumstances in His timing? We must come to terms with authority and trust that God is in control of our circumstances and that He has kind intentions toward us. He has established a hierarchy of authority that must operate in the church, in the workplace, and in the home. He will give me the ability to endure anything unjust; He will show me the attitudes He wants to change in me; and He will cause me to examine if I am serving others (Him) or serving myself. I have found that once I surrender to God in any area of my life, I feel joy and a deeper peace that He will provide what I need to endure and a way out if that is His plan.
How has God used uncomfortable circumstances in your life?
Great article on the unpopular topic of submission!
Thank you, Melinda!