Monday, July 06, 2009

"Yes Sir" is Hard- A Romans 'To Do' List

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

I don't know of any more difficult 'to do' than submission to authority. The older I get, the harder it is.

I also believe that 90% of our fragmentation and lack of unity comes from this very principle.

The principle of submission is a very interesting study. I think I could write an entire book about it and this blog will not do it justice at all.

The basic premise is this: God is the sovereign King. I owe my allegiance to Him.He is in charge of my circumstances and has put His ordained authority over me. My duty is to obey, even if I don't feel like it or agree with it. In fact, I am to obey it in such a way as to make the decision successful. I serve those in authority like I am serving the Lord.

And my grade for this principle: D- at best.

There was a time I was a little better at this- and then I became head of a household and a head coach- so I love to lead, but really hate to follow. But I also know how crucial it is in my leadership positions to have loyal followers.

A couple of stories:

I was a youth pastor 'in charge' of a trip to Colorado. It was MY trip. We had done it a few times and it was successful. Our staff wanted to do a few different things and one activity in particular was, in my opinion, just dumb. They vetoed me and went with the idea anyway. My attitude went from bad to worse as I wanted the activity to fail. I wanted to be right, more than have the event succeed. So I offered no help, even when I saw a flaw in the materials and organization of this activity.

As expected, the scheme went south and we ended up with a lot of hurt feelings. I sat with my arms crossed, halfway between gloating and the worse case of 'I told you so' I had ever had. But there were tears and frustrations- and it soon was being directed at me. And it suddenly dawned on me- I was a huge part of this failure. My selfishness caused a lot of problems. I could have helped it be better, maybe even a success- but I let my team down. Fortunately, we all forgave each other and moved on.

I was even worse towards my bosses in my early days. If my boss agreed with me, I was his best friend. But if they ever went against me, they all were morons!

Are you beginning to see the drift?

A big change in that happened as I became an assistant football coach. God began to show me that it is better to submit and work to make it work. Even if I did not agree with the decision, my responsibility became to submit and obey with a great attitude.

One time our head coach made a personnel change that all the assistants hated. We thought he was doing something very foolish. But God allowed me to work hard to make his wishes work. I took a great attitude into that situation. And that player helped us win a championship. I helped make his decision work- our head coach looked like a genius- and who cared? He was right! We won!

That one change allowed me to become one heck of an assistant football coach.

But past success does not mean future success. My default pattern is to push back and complain.

I have had, within this past year, to work on this again and have had some small victories.
This principle also involves serving, loving, and lifting up those in authority over us. Have you been nice to your boss lately? Try it- it is not sucking up- it is obeying the Lord.

By the way, this does not make me a big pile of spineless jelly.

During the decision time I fight hard for what I believe in, but if the decision goes against me- I submit according to Romans 13.

But think of all the areas this means: Driving the speed limit, fulfilling all my job duties, paying attention to God's Law- even in minor things. It means supporting our nation when the government seems to be going in a wrong direction.

Two last balancing points:
Is there a time to disobey? The answer is 'yes'- but it must be done very soberly, with counsel and prayer. The disobedience should be done 'out in the open' with explanation. And, I must be willing to accept the consequences of disobedience.

And finally, the Trinity is a picture of mutual submission. The Father/Son/ and Holy Spirit all mutually give way when the other's role become prominent. It creates that bond of unity and love.

My prayer is that we would all become less abrasive, less critical, less negative and willingly submit. Build up our leaders and pray for them.

When it is time to vote- vote. When it is time to debate- debate. But when the decisions are final- see them straight from the Lord and yield. May we become great followers to our rulers in both church and state. This pleases the Lord!

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