Just a few days ago, I wrote a blog post about authority (read it first, if you haven’t already). I stated, using Romans 13 as the key passage, that respecting the authority of elected officials is a requirement of Christians who say they respect God’s authority. The two are intertwined because of Romans 13:1-2 which says:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
Today’s lesson is the second part of that discussion, because, while we’re responsible to the government God puts in power, we’re responsible to God first and foremost. Since the election is now over and we can go back to our regularly scheduled lives, this seems imminently important. Today, many people woke up disappointed and others vindicated. Today, we are still divided about how and why and what a responsible citizen is supposed to look like and we’re wondering, “are we going to be pushed to the curb by the masses or someone who stands up and fights with every bit of our strength?” And somewhere, a rational person is deciding to do neither.
Today, I’m a child of the King, just like yesterday and quite frankly, I don’t care what’s changing in Frankfort or Washington because I’m overwhelmed by the One who doesn’t change. All of this mess in our country has vindicated my thoughts that God is the only One worthy of my undeniable devotion. He is the only One who will be faithful to a fault and the only One who won’t forsake me when times get tough.
While the parallels aren’t quite as dramatic as they could be, our cultural climate reminds me of Acts 5. There, following the birth of the Church and the initial wave of support it received from the Jews in Judea, the Apostles were imprisoned by the opposition leadership. They were miraculously freed by an angel during the night and went right back to preaching in the Temple. After being brought back before the High Priest, this exchange occurred in 5:28-29:
“Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
Peter (and the other apostles’) bravery is something we should emulate today. We must respect the leaders of our country (especially when we don’t agree with them), but we must honor God first! We must obey Him in all things and respect His authority above every other authority in this world.
As a secondary lesson, may we also humbly respect the example of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from Daniel 3? Those boys had everything in this world to lose by ignoring Nebuchadnezzar’s command. However, they were unwilling to bow down. When they told him in 3:18 they would not bow even if God didn’t deliver them from their punishment, they drew a line in the sand we must draw. We must always love, respect, and follow God’s authority no matter what it costs us in this world. Together, they proved that God’s power befuddles even the most powerful of this world. After they survived the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar said the following in 3:29:
Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.
If we can make the same statements those men made, perhaps those who observe our actions will praise God as well. Perhaps, they’ll see reason and bow to the authority they’re missing in their lives.
Unfortunately, we seemed to misplace in all the election hoopla the fact that God is still the sovereign ruler of this world. May we never forget, as we respect our newly elected officials, that God is to be obeyed above all men.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.