Let me start off by saying that I am not a teacher or leader within the walls of my church. I have no formal college or university degree from any institution. What I do have is a history that drives my intent to write this article.
I was born and raised in a small town in northern Alberta, Canada where I still live today. As long as I can remember I have desired to know God. My mom tells me that I had received salvation on a family trip when I was four. When I was eight years old I started walking to the church that I still attend. Watching the ebb and flow of people in my community and the church has revealed a few things to me.
One of the things that rears its head no matter where you are, is that people can respond poorly to those in leadership. The sister issue to this is the desire of people to see the power removed from these positions or stated another way a push toward self rule.
Now by having lived in the same town my entire life it may seem that I could not be aware of the issues in other cities, towns, or churches. While that may have been true a few years ago, the advent of our connected generation has made it possible to interact with people in many different locations and with many different views (such as the group within Bold Cup of Coffee). What never ceases to amaze me is the similarity of problems that are within any group of people, whether they be Christian or secular, employees or volunteers.
As a person, with a history of being under the authority of leaders and teachers, at times I had misgivings or dislike for the character of the leader I was required to submit to. At other times I gave improper responses to those in authority over me. I also learned by watching how other people responded to their authorities, with all the varying degrees of success and failure.
How many times have we stood around the water cooler, sat at a coffee table, or ate in a work lunchroom, and listened to people tear apart any person that may have an ounce of authority or that may take charge in a situation? This shows the true colours of the human spirit. The disregard we have for ‘minor’ laws like speed limits, copyrights, seat belts, and the way we chafe at correction and instruction all speak to this truth. Ever since that fateful day when mankind willfully and knowingly rebelled against the command of God, we have been doing this to each other.
This attitude has been smuggled into the four walls of the church, and is unknowingly carried within the heart. This is just what Satan intended when he asked that pivotal question: “Did God REALLY say……?” Within the initial question that the serpent asked is the very groundwork for the lack of faith in authority that we see today.
In a society where rebels, anti-heroes, and villains are applauded and even idolized, authority and leadership are touchy subjects. Movies and TV shows reinforce this by casting authorities in a negative light and making all people that reject them heroes. The attitudes that are applauded in such films are disdain of parents, hatred of police, rejection of law, distrust of government, or rejection of rule, but If we travel those roads I fear we are in trouble.
This stands in stark contrast to the instruction given to the church in Hebrews 5:8 that Jesus learned obedience through the things that he suffered, and the example of the Bereans, who studied the scriptures to see that these things are so (Acts 17:10-11). They questioned, yes, but they were not rebellious, they searched for answers. The message of the world may be to question authority, but are we not told to weigh all things against the authority of scripture?
If this is true it doesn't mean that we are to blindly obey all edicts from our earthly authorities. We are to be aware of those that are over us and respect them highly for the work they do (1 Thess. 5:12-13). But the Apostles gave us this caveat in Acts 5:29: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Authorities on earth are all human and will have flaws. There are abuses by authority, but do we not also abuse our grace at times? Life is a balancing act, and the balance between total blind submission and complete rebellion is tricky to be sure. But I believe that we are better to err toward submission than rebellion, as there are blessings associated with obedience but we are warned about rebellion. None of us have this perfectly practiced, but do we not deceive ourselves when we think that disobedience is a Godly trait?
When we enter this battle between our natural rebellious nature and the submission to a loving God that we are called to in scripture, we find ourselves in a tangled web of emotions, traditions, teachings, deceptions, and opinions. With all of that against us, can we humble ourselves and ask for the light of scripture and power of God to free us from our desires, so that we will see authority the way God meant for us to see it?
Husband to Ana, the love of his life, and father to two awesome boys: Eliot and Josue, Robert is a Born Again, spirit filled, tongue talking, believer in Christ Jesus the Risen Lord and Saviour. A hands on worker, and lifelong learner, he is drawn to those that can challenge thinking and increase knowledge. Having an overly analytical mind, he tries to remain relevant on earth while thinking deeply on things of life and faith.
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