Especially in youth ministry, the verses in Romans 13:1-3 come up often:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority 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. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval;”
You read these verses, and many adults would nod their heads in agreement. But most teens aren’t so quick to believe that EVERY authority is instituted by God. What about Hitler? What about unhealthy parents? What about….?
I’ve grown used to these questions, and always emphasize that of course, God’s authority comes first. If a government or parent or other authority asks us to do something actively against God…we are called to follow God. With grace/humility/love, of course.
But something I’ve missed out on proclaiming, until studying to teach it once again recently, was the importance/call towards developing the nature of “Obedience” in the life of a Christian. Because God describes it as a part of who we are in following Christ. We are obedient, in Love.
Jesus said “what you’ve done for the least of these, you’ve done also unto me”. I believe in many of our lives, especially today’s youth, but even some of us “grown-ups”…authority may be included in that “least of these” category. Is our natural response obedience….or is it rebellion?
God doesn’t call us to be obedient to authority only when it makes complete sense and is easy for us. God calls us to be obedient. To have the nature of obedience. To God first, but also to the other authorities in our lives. This is definitely not something many of us can achieve on our own strength. May God’s Spirit enable us to be an obedient people…in the same way that light shines in darkness…