Toscanini was especially known for his interpretations of Verdi, Beethoven, and Wagner, a detail made famous in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Detailed phrasing and dynamic intensity were his hallmarks. His memory was phenomenal, so much so that in his later years when his eyesight began to fail, he still managed to conduct from memory. The musicians who worked under him were loyal and completely devoted to him and his interpretations, following his lead religiously.
If an orchestra does not follow its conductor, it will fail. Every musician knows this. Every person in any field knows this about his own particular leaders. God expects no less from us. Too bad we aren't as smart as Toscanini's orchestras sometimes. And why?
We have a problem with authority. Americans 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 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.
The religious among us talk 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. Why, we have "rights!"
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.” The people of Malachi's time tried this and hear what God had to say about that:
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD's table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. (Mal 1:6-10).
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 what 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 against the leader of an orchestra will lead to chaos, not beautiful music. But rebellion against God’s authority, or any God-ordained authority, is rebellion against God, and will lead to destruction.
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