We all need a time when we cry like a child at the feet of Christ
This chapter opens up with a very mind-boggling statement: “…with a democratic mindset, it would be hard to understand kingdom principles”. It teaches about submission to authorities – virtually any authorities that we could ever think of – political government, our parents inside the house, our bosses at work, teachers in school, leaders of the church. The question that came into my mind right away was, “Do I suppose to submit to all authorities in all aspects of my life even if it violates me in any manner, or feel threatened by”? And if yes, “up to what extent”?
Based on my collective and extensive experience on leadership, I was aware of the fact that in order for a team to progress, everyone must learn how to become a follower first. But here’s the catch, it comes with a price! It includes seeing the big picture of the vision agreed upon by the majority, denying your pride and ego, and yes… enduring the pain it would cause you after hearing those harsh, painful but truthful rebukes you will hear that is against your own beliefs and philosophical views. I admit I am personally a hard-to-convince kind of person. I could find loopholes in any argument and scrutinize every bit of information I could get before somebody can persuade me or pin me down. However, after being able to read this chapter, I was humbled and crushed into pieces knowing that violating authorities surrounding me also means violating the authority of God himself. I couldn’t understand at first. But by God’s grace, I eventually did.
In Romans 13:1, it says “the authorities that exist are appointed by God”. I said to myself, there must have been a glitch or a hidden meaning here. But immediately I realized that these words are inspired by God and indeed ALL the words in the scripture are from God Himself. The words are clear. It didn’t say SOME authorities or any adjectives that would describe the word authorities to explicitly separate the few from the whole group. So the question popped up my head, “If all authorities are instituted by God, then why did He allow scrappy and corrupt government officials to reign in the Philippines for such a long time, and in return expect us to submit even if it endangers our overall welfare”? Is it part of a big plan God has for the Philippines? Is everything pre-destined? I don’t know. But one thing I know is we, as humans, can never fathom the mind of God. And I know for sure He would not want us to live a miserable life. He just wanted to teach us one lesson that is hard to attain – TRUST.
So, going back to the submission to authorities issue, Acts 9 says “resisting the authority of God means kicking against the goads”. I have learned from this reading that the existing authorities in this world are the extensions of God’s authority. To state a very simple example which we often overlook, God gives authority to the nature to provide fresh air and clean water, for instance, for the human beings to enjoy and sustain life. Nature can heal itself without human intervention. We do not have control over the nature, no matter the technological advancement people could create. That’s why when we abuse it, we see and feel the drawbacks to ourselves – we breathe a polluted air and we purify the water to free of any contaminants we ourselves have infected it with. The same as with the leaders of the society and of the church, they lead us into the vision the group has for a long time. But if we do not cooperate and harmonize, how then do we call ourselves part of the group if we are the ones dividing it to form another group which is in favor of your newfound rebellious principles? Balance is lost.
It’s really hard to kick against something that would kick you back! From here I remembered the law of motion by Isaac Newton. It states that “in every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Like when we punch the wooden door, it seems like it wouldn’t hurt because the door is not moving. But the potential energy at rest stored in the door could return the force you exerted into it whatever the intensity is. Same as with the authorities governed or mandated by God here on earth. Since these authorities are the extension of his power, of His kingdom, of His divine plan… if we go against it, we will never succeed because the power of the Almighty God resides in it! After realizing that, I came across another question, “Is the U.S. government an extension of the heavenly authority of God, while we know that the U.S. has caused tremendous and horrific world conflict”? We know for a fact that it is the political powerhouse of the whole world; and if we go against them, their troops and high-end war equipments could actually pin a nation down! In this kind of leadership, do we still submit to them? Yes. Why? Because God says so.
I was kind of amazed when I read the story of John Bevere when he was appointed as a youth pastor. Being a novice in this ministry, he did all that he could to collect for resources and materials that would help enhance his skills in this field. He even went into immersion with a big church in another state to observe new ideas or methods are performed by the leaders same as his caliber. He was inspired and his adrenaline had been wanting to start so badly as he was inspired by the fruitful result of this evangelism technique he witnessed. His planning took 8 months as he trained leaders and taught them what strategy they would do, only to find out his senior pastor would cancel their well-laid activities ready to launch. The pastor said that “the Holy Spirit had a different direction for the church, not to conduct home cell groups”. The story goes… of course he was mad and frustrated. Same thing happened with me. When I was a youth president in the Philippines, the fire in me cannot be contained. I had a lot of things going inside my mind and can’t wait to start them off. Right in front of my eyes these plans were one by one cancelled and rejected. Some of which I’ve pushed through myself without listening to the advice of my leaders had failed and did not produce fruits. I didn’t understand them that time until I saw the results of my action.
Now I came to a realization that not all churches have same vision. Comparing one to another with their methodologies and fruits is like comparing an apple with a pineapple. This also applies to the leadership of a country. We often ask why monarchy – having a one generation ruler – has a superb result in Japan, UK, and other countries having kings and queens; while in the Philippines, we as a free country enjoying the full brim of democracy is nothing less compared to these 1st world countries. I am not an expert in the field of politics, but one very basic idea I know is that we are different to them in many areas that accounts for culture and history. Going back to Pastor John Bevere, I understand him being temperamental about the drastic decisions made by his senior pastor. It’s a normal reaction from people who worked out their hours trying to put the puzzle all together when a kid steps on it and ruins everything. But I looked beyond the situation. It is not the senior pastor who collapsed the wall. It is the warning of the Holy Spirit. And we, too, should all look beyond the purpose of the failures of our plans especially if we are working with a team. One vision has to be pursued. More than one vision means di-VISION.
Furthermore, I admired Pastor John after he consulted God and cried his heart out of all his frustrations with his senior pastor and the insensitivity of his wife about his feelings. I saw a vivid picture here of a child begging for his parents’ sympathy after all the worlds had gone mad at him. And yes, we all need a moment like this when we become so transparent with God about everything that hurts us. And then after all the burst-outs, God corrected and realigned John’s misconceptions unto God’s divine plan. This is the best part. We all need a time when we cry like a child at the feet of Christ. The lesson I learned here is that when you’re mad, hopeless, and rejected, do not look for an ally and sympathy from others. They too have their own biases and pain you don’t have any idea about. Instead, we should talk to God first and let him honestly know our pain and agony. But it doesn’t end there! We should LISTEN to his response and OBEY his commands as He instructs us to do better next time!
Lastly, I learned that we should never neglect the fact that it is not our own ministry we should be very busy building around. It’s never had been OURS. God is the author of all authorities and the bible says that whatever we say or do, it should bring glory to God. Therefore if we want to glorify God with all that we can, it should also include possessing a contrite, humble, and teachable heart – submitting ourselves to authorities God has established all around us.
To grab a copy of John Bevere’s book “Under Cover”, click on the link below:
Though this article was published a month ago, I still would like to contribute it to the Conventional Wisdom blog posts to inspire others in being submissive to the authorities.