Submit to the Government? Seriously?
We are a Nation of Rebels! We are sons and daughters of the first rebels, Adam and Eve. We are also Americans, and rebellion is part of our national heritage, just ask the British. We value voicing our opinion about just about everything - just ask us! Talking about submission to authority is like rubbing the cats fur the wrong way; we do not like it! Insubordination is part of our cultural ethos; it’s just the air that we breathe.
In 1 Peter 2:13-17 the Apostle Peter is addressing the question, “what is the proper relationship of Christian citizens toward their government? It would have been easy for his readers to conclude they could disregard and disobey human government, since they were citizens of heaven, not of this earth. Peter anticipates and counters this wrong conclusion by explaining that Christian must live as good citizens wherever they are.
Paul says in Romans 13, “There is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
Never forget, God uses earthly authorities to accomplish His purposes, even though they may behave poorly.
I realize that this is a difficult subject to address, but the Bible is clear, we are to recognize the authority structures that God has allowed, as imperfect as they may be.
Behind Peter’s command to submit stands an important principle about our attitude. We are to submit to civil authority not because we’re blind nationalists, but because we’re bondservants of God. We set aside some things because our primary obligation is to live in such a way as to bring honor to His reputation in the public square. Our vertical obligation to worship God as churches creates the horizontal right with respect to other people and our governments.
Is there ever a case for civil disobedience? Yes, there are situations that do warrant rebellion. God’s law always trumps man’s law.
There is nothing easy about all this. Every one of us must search our own hearts and come to terms with what God has said on the subject. Clearly our responsibility here is something we all need to approach wisely, carefully, and prayerfully. We need to strike a balance and remember Peter’s commands:
Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, and honor the king.