Americans in general have a problem with authority. We are quick to ask, “Who says?” and just as quick to ignore the answer. That is why you see all those brake lights on the road in front of you when the wolf pack of cars passes a trooper on the side of the road. If we all recognized the authority of the government, we would not be breaking laws when we thought no one was watching.
People today are always talking about making Jesus “Lord” in their lives. If our culture gets in the way in any area, it is this one. We have no idea what living under a “lord” is like. We vote our lawmakers in if we like them and out if we don’t. We hold sit-ins, walk picket lines, and strike. Actually having someone else tell us how to handle every area of our lives is not only something we have never experienced, it is something that would rankle and cause rebellion immediately, simply for the fact of it.
Jesus can be Lord in my life as long He will take me as I am, as long as He will be the kind, accepting, loving Lord who never expects any sacrifice on my part. He can be my Lord as long as he helps me when I want him and how I want him, and leaves me alone otherwise. He can be my Lord as long as I get to choose how I serve Him. Our culture is getting in the way. This is one thing those first century Christians could handle better than we can—they lived under an irrational tyrant. Yet when Peter and Paul told them to obey the government they did, even when that government tortured and killed them.
We show a complete lack of respect for authority when we disrespect God’s law. I keep hearing, “This is how I want to do it, and God knows my heart so He will accept it.” This comes from women who get mad at husbands whose gifts are “not romantic.” “He should know what I want and want to please me,” even though they never spell it out in so many words. God does spell it out but if it’s not what we want to give him, we ignore his desires.
It comes from men who make fun of the ties and after shave they get on Father’s Day. They want season tickets to their favorite team’s game or some other “manly” gift or toy, but their wives “just don’t get it.” I suppose God should accept those token gifts if we give them with all our hearts? We regularly give God what we would never accept gracefully ourselves, what we would in fact, ridicule to our friends.
Jesus said authority is important. He said there are only two places to get it: “from Heaven or from men,” Matt 21:25, the point being that authority from God is all that matters. In turn, God gives governments authority (Rom 13:1), husbands authority (Eph 5:23), parents authority (Eph 6:1), and elders authority (Heb 13:17). Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment, Rom 13:2. When the Israelites rejected God’s choice of judge as their ruler and demanded a king instead, God told Samuel, they have not rejected you, they have rejected me from being king over them, 1 Sam 8:7.
Rebellion seems to be second nature to Americans. But rebellion against God’s authority, or any God-ordained authority, is rebellion against God.
And seated [Christ] at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but in the one that is to come. And he put all things under his feet, and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all, Eph 1:20-23