Authorities

taxi-cab-381233_640Luke 20:25: He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Everything is God’s and so everything should be rendered to God. That means God determines everything. Our lives should be lived in full commitment to him.

That is why everything the devil does is to lessen our commitment to God, to make us like himself, by moving us in the direction of rebellion.

The things that are God’s includes- yes, everything. He made everything (Genesis 1:1), and even the positions of authority in all realms were created by, him, and they continued to exist because he allowed them to (Colossians 1:16). Even the devil exists because of God permits it.

To God, we owe absolute allegiance, but we can express relative allegiance to other levels of authority as established by God. The bible says that we should submit to all authorities because they are ordained by God (1Peter 2:13-15), with a particular reference to visible ones, because the only invisible authority we submit to Jesus. He is Lord (Romans 10:9-10).

Church authority

The church authority exists because of Jesus. The bible says that we should submit to church elders, giving honour to them (Hebrews 13:7, 17).

Paul wrote about the authority he has not to pull the church down but to build it up (2Corinthians 10:8). He did not exercise any other authority, he was unmarried, so he did not express authority on the family front, he did not hold a civic position, he did not found a company, he did not pursue a social agenda.

And because of that he offended many because he neither fought for the emancipation of the women folks nor the abolition of slavery; and not even eradication of poverty.

Even in his writing he seems to advocate the continued repression of women, and he has been painted in a male chauvinistic colour, as he seemed to suggest that women folks experience a lesser version of the grace of Jesus.

But, he only preached the gospel, founding and strengthening churches, laying the foundation as a master builder (1Corinthians 3:10-11), bearing authority in the church. He was a preacher, teacher and apostle (2Timothy 1:11).

But he knew people will build on the foundations he laid through the authority he bore. And later on people will build the abolition of slavery on it, that all men are equal before God, being a basic tenet of his gospel, and that everyone is equally in need of salvation, since we were equally on the path to hell if not for Jesus.

He wrote that regardless of sex, social standing or ethnic background, we all need Christ, and that in Christ there is neither male nor female (Galatian 3:28-29). He did not pursue many things but in his writing and life, he laid the foundation for them.

Church authority is wielded by those whom Christ has appointed. The bible says that Christ has set some in the church: apostle, prophet, pastor teachers, and pastor (Ephesians 4:10-12, 1Corinthians 12:28).

The primary tool of their work is the word of God. That is the way Christ designed the church, because he himself is God the Word (John 1:1-3). As the word comes to the people, it manifests in different ways in their lives, helping them to walk fully in all the purposes of God for them (Colossians 1:9-10).

And these spokesmen for Christ the word, specially equipped and prepared for those roles, serve to release others into their various ministries (1Timothy 4:14).

The fivefold ministers expressed Christ’s authority through the word. And church leadership authority in vested in those people. The bible says that those who labour in the word should be given double honour (1Timothy 5:17).

Government authority

This is civic authority. Paul taught that we should give honour to civic authority (Romans 13:1-7), those who hold political authority. But what if they require you to disobey God? You should resist that authority, like Daniel and his friends did in Babylon (Daniel 1, 3).

We can and should be involved with the civic authority (Daniel and his friends were). We should identify with the flag of the nation. God told the people of Israel while in Babylon that they should pray for the land (the highest level of commitment) since they will prosper in its prosperity (Jeremiah 29:7).

We see Paul identifying with Rome saying he was born there as he enforced his birthright (Acts 22:25-27). So our identification with the kingdom of God is not in opposition to our identification with an earthly country at the civic, sociocultural level, as the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses want you to believe.

We are not meant to resist the authority of government rather pray for them. The bible says that prayer should be made for those in authority so that they will do the right thing, and we would live peaceably and serve God unhindered (1Timothy 2:1-2).

Family authority

In the family setting the father, the husband, is the head, and the wife is commanded to submit (Ephesians 5:22-33). The children are told to obey their earthly parents (Colossians 3:20). But if such a parent wants to hinder your worship of God, rebellion is in order, the same with the any other authority, even “church” authority.

Paul wrote that wives should submit to their own husbands as to the Lord, because the relationship between the husband and the wife should be a picture of Christ and the church, noting that the church should submit to Christ in everything.

Christ cares for the church unconditionally and loves her, giving his life for her.

Every true authority have a measure of sacrifice involved, as we see Christ sacrifice his life to save the church, which is the action. True authority also has an element of love involved, serving as the motivation of the leader.

Economic authority

Submitting to economic authority is about the being very dutiful and diligent (Romans 12:11). Expressing what that means Paul said that the slave and in our case the employee, should render to the master all respect and obedience, due diligence (1Timothy 6:1-5).

As far as he was concerned, that is a strong expression of Christian testimony, carrying out your job, assignment effectively even if the master is difficult (Titus 2:9-10, Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22, 1Timothy 6:1). That is why being unwilling to work is frowned against in the bible (2Thessalonians 3:6-12). If you bear economic authority pay your workers promptly, said James (James 5:4). That is a responsibility of the one who bear economic authority.

Conclusion

One thing that is due to all authority is honour and submission, obedience. But for those who bear the authority, the bible says that he who is faithful in little will be given authority over many (Luke 19:17).

That means regardless of the level of authority we have, it can be expanded, as we are faithful in that application of one level of the authority, if becomes a platform for increase for us, to get to higher levels of authority.

If you are faithful in little you are faithful in much, says the bible (Luke 16:10). Faithfulness is being truthful to the word of God in what you do, expressing commitment and showing respect to the one who is the source of all authorities.

David increased in authority, coming from only ruling over Judah to ruling over the whole of Israel, while Saul had the kingdom taken from him, when he did not express faithfulness to God. Being faithful is also about humbling yourself under the mighty hand of God that he will lift you up in due season (1Peter 5:6).

Those with authority are to use it for positive change and empowering others, and not for personal enjoyment. God said that the king of Israel should not accumulate horses for himself (Deuteronomy 17:16).

All authority is given by God and those who bear it will give account to him. James said: let not everyone seek to be teachers because they will have stricter judgement (James 3:1).

God deals with them more severely, because of the authority they bear, i.e. the leaders. Even Jesus went through trial, the one who will bear ultimate authority. The bible said that he cried out to God who was able to save him, and that he learnt obedient by the things he suffered (Hebrews 5:7-9). He was going to bear all authority and he needed to be upright when it comes to obedience, shaped aright.

 

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