Romans 13:1-2 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”
While Romans 12:1-2 are truly sermon-worthy verses, this 13th chapter is often neglected in our teaching and preaching. And for good reason – it goes against my nature.
I work in a business environment that supports active career pursuits and leadership potential as desirable. While I support them both, many have taken them to the extreme. Career pursuits that use others as stepping stones and leadership that suppresses or oppresses is neither good nor desirable.
When it comes to talking about power, you hear such axioms as:
“Survival of the fittest”
“Kill or be killed”
Both of these are spawned from evolutionary thought. Viewing yourself singularly, selfishly; in pursuit of bettering yourself at all costs seems a noble cause – but are devoid of Christian principles.
Just because I have been given talent or skill above those around me does not mean I use it as a weapon or a tool to gain leverage or control. I had once espoused such thoughts. But, that was long before the Holy Spirit of God took residence in my soul.
Fundamentally as humans, we long to have some sense of control in our lives. Some, out of self-preservation because they had once been wounded and vowed never again to allow others to do such a thing. Others find that submission or giving in to the will of another is a show of weakness.
But when we are called as a child of God to submit to our Heavenly Father, it is well until it is in an area we feel uncomfortable or unsure of the outcome. We shy away. We dawdle, hem and haw; trying to think of any other way to get around relinquishing control to Someone I do not know has my best interest in mind.
At the root of our disobedience is our lack of knowing to whom it is we are submitting. You see, knowing my God loves me unconditionally affords my heart great security and peace knowing He will do what is best – even if everything around me is unfamiliar, uncomfortable or even threatening.
How God chooses to glorify Himself through the things you and I say and do every day should be by His design – not ours. Jesus, our Supreme example said:
John 5:36 “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.”
Jesus was in full and total submission to what God the Father wanted Him to do. We see His struggle when He was faced with the greatest trial of His life – the cross and bearing the sins of every man:
Luke 22:41-42 “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
For us, as Christians, we must not only recognize that all power comes from God, we must treat all power as God-ordained in my life. I have been given power over my own body to choose what I eat, what to wear, how to act, what to say.
But salvation put me underneath new management. I am no longer the “Master of my own destiny”. I am the purchased possession of One who paid the ultimate price for my soul. I may choose to rebel and do those things that I choose to please me, or, choose those things God has for me today.
God has also placed human leaders in my life to guide me. In every relationship we find ourselves, there is one who is ordained to lead and one to follow. Yet even in leadership – Christian leadership; it is servant leadership that is the guiding principle with Christ as our example.
Philippians 2:5-8 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
We will come across every form of leadership in our life in the world and in the church. That leadership will be both good and bad. When I fail to submit or even rebel against the authority in my life, it is not the one who holds the position that I have an issue; it is God who placed them there.
How that one fulfills their duty in that position is not up to me to decide – they are answerable to God for how they carry out the duties of what they have been given.
1 Peter 2:18 “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.”
You mean even when they treat me horribly? To take up any ‘side’ or ‘opinion’ that does not line up with the Word of God is in defiance of what God designed it should be. You say, “What of the injustices done? What of fairness?” or “They are abusing their power” or “They are using their position for their personal gain”.
God is Judge Supreme. He will execute and meet out the correction, justice, mercy and even vengeance all in His time. When desire to take up sides, criticize or complain, stand at the crossroads between rebellion and submission.
The choice is ours… Choose carefully.