Representing Christ Well by Submitting to Authority

teamworkContinued from here.

One glaring area for improvement in Christian circles is obeying God about submitting to authority. The Bible is very clear that God expects his people to submit to all forms of authority, such as God’s laws, secular authority, and those in authority over you in ministry. The Bible also tells wives to respect and submit to their husbands. This is not a popular message, particularly in the United States, which was founded upon rebellion from England. However, as Christians, we cannot pick and choose which biblical admonitions to follow. If you are disciple of Christ, you will obey what God tells you to do.

One reason I never wanted to go into professional ministry is that Christians can be the most difficult people to lead. I have led both Christian volunteers and secular volunteers and have found that the secular volunteers are more easily led, which is ironic considering God’s Word emphasizes the importance of walking together in unity. In the secular realm, leaders are not going to put up with much attitude from volunteers. However, in the Christian realm, leaders want to extend grace, and many take advantage of that grace and behave in ways that secular volunteers would not consider doing. This should not be, Church. I make it my mission to be the most easily-led volunteer at my church. One must learn to be a good follower to ever become a good leader.

One thing that the enemy does better than the Church is working together in unity. Even Satan knows that a house divided against itself cannot stand. However, the church has not learned that lesson, which is one reason the Church has divided itself into so many denominations. “Being right” takes priority over being unified, even though the Bible is clear that we are all members of one Body and need to learn to work together in unity, following the Head, who is Christ.

If you have trouble working together in unity with your Christian brothers and sisters, you are spiritually immature. It’s time for the Church to grow up. If everyone in a ministry is following one Head, then they should be able to work together in unity rather than split apart every time the Head makes a decision that they do not like.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace waving pom poms and cheering under the word, “Teamwork!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Grace’s Journey: Submitting to Other Authority

drivingContinued from here.

The next leg of my journey probably caused more groans in my friends than in myself as God expanded submission to obeying governmental authority. For example, God placed heavily on my heart that I was to submit to the posted speed limit. Note that I learned how to drive in the metro-Atlanta area, where the flow of traffic is generally 15 MPH over the speed limit. I have always had a lead foot and was impatient with anyone who didn’t.

After decades of driving above the speed limit, I felt the Holy Spirit’s conviction whenever I drove even a few miles over the speed limit. Learning how to slow down as I drove was not an easy process for me. Nevertheless, I did it because I love God more than I love speeding. I was surprised to find that obeying the speed limit makes me a more relaxed driver, in part because it’s rare for anyone else to be responsible for slowing me down anymore.

While I did undergo a period of adjustment, it now feels natural for me to obey the speed limit. I am relaxed as a drive and love listening to Contemporary Christian music and focusing on worshiping God as I drive. I am no longer impatient when I have to wait at a traffic light. I allow more time to arrive at my destination, so I feel no anxiety about arriving on time. Obeying God in this area has resulted in many benefits that I never would have guessed I had been missing out on.

However, obeying governmental authorities for minor issues, such as not speeding, is not a popular choice, which is why I joked about this probably causing my friends to groan more than me. To my knowledge, none of my friends have received the same conviction to obey the speed limit, and some of them find it annoying to ride with me since I “drive like a grandmother.” I tell them that if they want to go faster, then they will need to do the driving (and some take me up on this offer!).

I am careful not to judge my friends for disregarding the speed limit. Just as happened with me, the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of convicting them if/when that’s an area that God wants to work on in their lives. That being said, I’m also not going to allow anyone else to talk me into disobeying God in this area, so I wind up being the passenger more frequently these days!

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace driving a car with a license plate “L8R”and waving. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Grace’s Journey: Submitting to Husband’s Authority

helpContinued from here.

August of 2015 was a difficult month for me. My extended family experienced significant strife that (sadly) continues to this day. I needed wisdom and discernment for how to handle this contentious situation, so I prayed to God because He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him for it. However, God did not give me that wisdom and discernment directly. Instead, He placed on my heart that I was to ask my husband and submit to his authority for how to proceed. (Groan)

Based on all of the “groans” I have peppered into my recounting of this season of life, you can surmise that this was not the answer I wanted to hear. I had gotten used to praying to God and Him responding to me directly, whether through a tugging in my Spirit, the wise words of a Christian friend, or through His Word. This time, God only gave me one avenue to the wisdom I sought, and that was through submission to my husband – through asking his advice and doing whatever he recommended, regardless of how I felt about that advice. (Groan)

With great reluctance, I dragged myself to my husband and humbly asked for his advice. (My guess is that God got the same chuckle out of my drama as I used to get when my then-toddler reluctantly and dramatically did what I told him to do.) And you know what? God opened the floodgates of wisdom for my husband. He knew exactly what to do, and it was all brilliant. God came through in powerful ways by giving me the answers I needed while doing it in a way that taught me my role in my marriage.

Since that experience, submission to my husband (groan) has become easier. As you can see, 18 months of experience in consistently submitting to my husband has not removed the internal reluctance. My initial reaction is almost always to do what I want to do. However, I have learned through experience and effort not to listen to that initial response. Regardless of how I feel, I will submit to my husband’s legitimate authority because I love God, and I trust that if my husband oversteps this authority (he hasn’t), God will intervene and protect me.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace sinking in quicksand, holding up her hand and yelling, Help!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Grace’s Journey: Value of Submitting to Authority

i_cant_evenContinued from here.

Thanks for returning to read the rest of the story. I know that submitting to authority is unpopular and goes against the grain in a society that got its start by rebelling against authority. Believe me – If God can get me to believe Him on this, He can reach anyone!

In 2015, God moved me into extremely uncomfortable territory – submitting to authority, including my husband. While I have 18 months of practice, I still internally groaned when I wrote that sentence. I don’t want you thinking that obedience to God in this area (or in any area, for that matter) comes easily to me. It doesn’t. I have to keep reminding myself that God loves me, is good, is with me, and is in control to be able to push through my internal revulsion at submitting to anyone other than Him… and even submitting to Him took a lot of effort. Without the four pillars of fundamental beliefs, I truly could not do it.

In the Summer of 2015, God placed on my heart that I needed to submit to my husband. (Groan) I didn’t want to do it, so I looked for ways to make this idea less repulsive. (Truly no offense to my husband. He’s a great guy who loves me and wouldn’t hurt me for anything. This was my issue, not his.)

I eased myself in by reframing submission as “being willing to yield.” God let me do that for a while, but then He placed heavily on my heart that he actually does mean submit. If I wanted to continue experiencing God’s joy, I had to do what He told me to do. Period. I wanted God’s joy more than I was repulsed by submission, so I … very grudgingly … made the life decision to submit to my husband’s legitimate authority. This means that if he and I have different perspectives on how to handle a situation, such as with our son, I defer to his judgment, no matter how strongly I disagree. (Groan) Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst’s book, Kingdom Woman, really helped with this because Hurst shared specific examples of how God blessed her obedience in these types of situations.

God then placed me in a painful and complicated situation in which my only direction would come through my husband.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on the ground, looking down, and dramatically saying, “I can’t even.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Grace’s Journey: Submitting to Authority

Continued from here.

I suspect you are not going like this topic any more than I did, but it’s part of my journey and has brought me an enormous amount of joy and peace (believe it or not). Whether we like it or not, God tells us to submit ourselves to every human authority, which includes the government, your spouse, and other leaders.

If you find this command repulsive, I totally get it. I was severely abused by people who misused their authority over me. Because I was a child and they were adults, I had no power. They abused their authority by raping me as well as emotionally tormenting me in other ways. So, I grew into a woman who was mistrustful of authority and completely unwilling to submit, even to benign authorities (and this included God). I wanted to know what the boundaries were so I could decide for myself whether to follow or circumvent them as I saw fit. This deep-seated drive to be in control and not allow anyone else to “run my life” was particularly destructive in my marriage.

Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst’s book, Kingdom Woman, was particularly helpful for me in understanding the limitations of submission to authority. Tony Evans has also discussed this topic several times on his television show, The Urban Alternative. Through Evans’ teachings, I was reassured that God does not give the authorities in our lives ultimate control: those in authority over me are accountable to God’s own limits. I am only to submit to their “legitimate authority” over me (Evans’ words).

For example, my husband does not have the authority to tell me to sin against God. Therefore, if he were to tell me to cheat on our taxes, which is a sin, I should not submit because God’s instructions trump my husband’s instructions. The same applied in Nazi Germany, where the government was instructing citizens to turn over Jews to be murdered. I must submit to those who God has placed in authority over me, and those in authority over me must submit to God. Whenever God’s Word and an authority figure’s instructions are contradictory, I am always to obey God.

With that protection in place, there’s no wiggle room: as long as whatever an authority figure tells me to do does not violate God’s Word, I am to submit to it. Period. (And yes, the look on my face after reading that probably mirrors your own.)

The good news is coming. Stay tuned!

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cover of the book, Kingdom Woman. Courtesy Amazon.com.]