It would suffice to say that someone who has an authority put over them usually comes to resent that authority. Authority and subordination comes in many forms: Parents and children; a caretaker and a person needing care; a boss and employees; a CEO and board members; a governor and state citizens; a representative and constituents; a president and the countrymen. There are those who often find themselves both in authority and under authority. For some, these are natural places to be in, like as a parent over a child. Others may find their position more complicated, such as a board member who is over a manager but under a CEO. Or another scenario, a president who is over congress yet still under the people of the country. Still others find it difficult as a citizen to be under governmental authorities who, though they are public servants, still manage to wave that hand of governance just a little to strongly for their liking.
People resent authority from one time to another. It is hard to be under authority and still harder to obey the rules. Because of this, we often resent not only the offices of authority, but we also desire to rebel against it, even shaming, or withholding respect for said authorities. I have, do, and likely will fall prey to such temptations. Rejecting authority has been a part of humankind since the Rebellion (Gen. 3:1-24). But in spite of our sinful nature, we Christians are called to live according to Christ’s will.
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in the proper time. … I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
~ 1 Timothy 2:1-6, 8 ~
What does this mean, then? First, we are instructed to pray. We are make requests, prayers, and intercessions to the Lord for all authorities. Why? So that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness. That is to say, perhaps, we pray that God may guide our leaders to letting us as Christians to live in the ways of God in peace. Additionally, we are remained that God wants all men to be saved and for all hands to be lifted in prayer in unity. Thus, we are to pray not only so that we may live peaceful lives, but also that those in authority might come to the knowledge and faith in Christ that we already rejoice in.
We are not only to act this way towards our governing authorities, but for all authorities in our lives. Yet as both in the time of the Old and New Testament, as in the time of the Reformation, whose celebration is quickly approaching, as is the time now, we live in a time in which the governing authorities seem to oppress in more ways than one. For some, this oppression or dispute is taken to the point of death.
But what can we do? What should we do? For those above us, we should and can only pray, witness, and live our lived in godliness and holiness. But in regards to how we act, we can do more (Titus 3:1-2). We are reminded in Romans that we are to submit to authorities, for they are instruments which God has placed in their positions (Rom. 13:1-7). If we are punished for living as a Christian, how much better than being punished as a law-breaker (Col. 3:23, 1 Pet. 2:12, 20)? And we may be punished for doing what is good. When the apostles were persecuted for following Christ, what did they say?
We must obey God rather than men! ~ Acts 5:29 ~
And they were punished then and they were punished again. They lived and died for their beliefs, they preached even when told not to, but they respected the authorities over them. They sought neither power nor corruption, neither rebellion nor fame. They sought only to preach Christ. This is what Christians are called to do. And again, they did pray and instructed others to pray for those in authority over them so that one day they might live peaceful and quiet lives. And remember, during different times in history, the Lord did answer these prayers.
What is this to mean? In what way should we, as Christians, live our lives? As in all times, we should pray. While this may seem repetitive, we should pray not only in the good times, but also in the bad times. God is with is. In times of trouble and hardship, in times when those in authority over us seem overbearing, or undeserving of trust, or our respect, we should pray. In our lives, we walk as Christ walked (1 Pet. 2:21). Instead of taking our discomfort at our present situation and turning it into resentment, let us take on the mantle of peace and forgiveness and pray for those in authority, as we have been instructed to do. Let us pray for our leaders, our public servants, our bosses and parents, our neighbors and our brothers. They need our prayers; their shoulders carry much weight and responsibility. All people need the guidance of the Lord. Perhaps if we return to God and do as He commanded us, we may find that the authority over us has been blessed by God and we may live in peace once more (2 Chron. 7:14).
Blessings to you and yours,