By Michael E. Brooks
“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” (Romans 13:1-2, NKNV).
It was a very good idea. Two fine Christian young men want to attend Bible College in another country. The school is able to receive them, and happy to reach out to candidates from a neighboring nation. The invitation was extended, and visas were sought. That is where problems arose. The government of the host country ruled that the college had not yet met all necessary conditions, so visas were not issued. Submit more forms, and try again later.
It is easy to complain about and criticize such rulings, or even to develop a persecution complex. “If we were of the majority religion, there would be no problem”. “Another case of harassment of minority religions”. It is easy to say those things, or to think them. They may even be true. But the fact is, it is their government, their rules, and they have every right to enforce and administer them in that way. The Spirit teaches us not to complain or feel picked on, but simply to submit.
This teaching does not play well in today’s rebellious and permissive society. We are continuously taught disrespect for all authority, especially that of government. In both entertainment and news media governmental officials are frequently depicted as incompetent at best, and corrupt, greedy, conspiring despots at worst. “The people” are always in the moral right, government always wrong, regardless of the issue or circumstance.
To make matters worse, we are simultaneously being encouraged in selfishness and greed. Commercials insist, “You deserve it,” whether the product is a luxury car or a retirement of ease and wealth. Special interest groups insist that their members be given every “right” and privilege which can be imagined. The result of these two philosophies is that authority is despised and ignored, and law is considered harmful and unnecessarily restrictive.
In practical application this means to many that if a law is inconvenient, ignore it. Others reason that law is for the other person not themselves. If someone wants to harm me, that is illegal; however, if I want to do something against another, that’s different. Far too many feel that anything is ok, as long as they can get away with it either by not getting caught or by using influence or bribery to avoid consequences.
In the midst of this rebellion, Christianity teaches, “submit to authority.” The reason is simple. It is ordained of God. All authority exists with his knowledge and approval. This does not mean that all authority is good, as we judge it, or that governments cannot be corrupt. They can be and often are. But we are not their judges. Our duty is simple. Obey the law. Let God deal with those who abuse their position. He will, in his own time and way. Meanwhile those who are his people honor him, by submitting to those whom he has appointed. Whether or not it is convenient.
Christianity teaches us to submit to governmental authorities.