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Subject to the governing authorities


subject to governing authoritiesFunny how much I love talking about walking with God this year – very romantic in many ways.

Then I get challenged today that I cannot be so heavenly minded that I am no earthly good.

How does my walk with God relate to civil governance?

It is obviously very important part of my testimony, my witness to who I am in Christ.

The terms are quite clear that someone who is walking with God is also subjecting themselves to those God has put in authority over them.  Hard to swallow when one thinks of the potential leaders we could have found ourselves under and then try to imagine how submitting would work.

The same word that is a stumbling block to those in marriage is the same word that gives us trouble in this area too.

“Subject” does not mean doormat – it means giving due to a position held that has been placed their by God for our own good, as a blessing.  Should the person in such a position not tend to their God-given responsibilities, then our job is to pray that God would replace them with someone who will.

Yes, as with you, I am thinking of the Christians in Egypt who are on the streets protesting and proud of it.  I am thinking of the Christians in Iraq, Syria and Iran who have decided to pray instead of fight.  What can one say – civil disobedience is not an option anywhere in God’s plan and yet we justify these actions as the freedom of religion and in essence a way to protect our families.

Esther is probably the most powerful story in the Bible where prayer changed the status of the world power at the time.  The Jews were meant for total annihilation and through prayer, Esther being the spokesperson, a nation was saved.  Hence this book was placed in the Bible even though God actually does not have a presence in it other than His name is mentioned.

May be we choose civil disobedience because its easier than prayer and it takes care of our anger.  May the Lord watch between you and me how we proceed when those in authority over us step away from their God-given responsibility.  May we seek to prayer with as much aggression and passion as we would consider any other course of action.  May the Lord be glorified through everything we do.





  1. nopew says:

    Lots can come out of this. First, I would just say that God’s name does NOT appear in Esther.
    Then I would say that when authorities become the enemy of God we should take action. Jesus threw the moneychangers and animal merchants out of church because they had openly defied God. But speeding while driving, just to defy authority, is a very different thing. When laws do not shame God we should obey them (so signal the next time you change lanes on the highway!).
    And yes, pray for our leaders, even who belong to the “wrong” party. Do note hate them. Yet hold them to account for sins in a way that obeys Scripture and elevates God above personal opinion. My opinion or personal convenience can never be the grounds for resisting the authority of political leaders.
    And then we could get into Liberation Theology. Hmm?

    • evanlaar1922 says:

      Correct on the actual name of God not appearing – however, the indication that fasting so that someone in a higher authority would hear their lamentation and see their sackcloth and ashes would come and intervene would indicate a form of prayer to God.

      Your example of authority was pretty lame my friend – money changers in the temple were not people in authority – they had a job but no position of leadership within the temple – can you give me another example?

      yeah – I was pretty careful not to make any references that would pull us into the liberal theology issues – thanks for noticing.


      • nopew says:

        Actually, since those sellers were there by authority they represented the authority (just like a rogue police officer or a predator priest) and it was the Temple authorities who looked bad. To say we pray only for the Prime Minister, but not for the bureaucrats who do his bidding, is to literalize “authority” until it loses its spiritual importance.
        Look at what the prophet Nathan did to King David -“You are the man” because he had sinned. Or how Elijah reacted to Jezebel. Or Amos to the court prophets. Or Jesus on trial, both in the Sanhedrin and Romans. He refused to recognize their authority and never answered their questions – when He spoke it was only to say what He had to say. Or apartheid or other racial laws that were resisted for the benefit of all God’s children. Actually, the list goes on. The point I made, supporting your comment, was to pray for them, but I still say leaders and their representatives must be held accountable. Forgiveness involves restitution, not just mind-assent. So I hope you don’t think I am against your lesson – I just wanted to expand the possibilities a little, not condemn you in any way.

      • evanlaar1922 says:

        Thanks for keeping the discussion going – actually I am not feeling you are against anything – its a learning moment for me and I am pushing back gently so that I have the opportunity of viewing authority from a different angle.

        I think that the instructions we have are quite clear – Rom.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 he who 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 him 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; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. [5] Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. [6] For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. [7] Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

        The definition of governing authority and the examples you provided are just not real enough for me. At the end of the day, if I have to admit that Jesus Himself did not honour His own Word, I am in trouble. I have always trusted His Word. His Word is always right and when our definitions or when we look at a passage in the light of what we want to see differ, our call is to change our definition and see it in the light of His Word which will be a light to our path and a lamp to our feet.

        I am thrilled that at the end of the day we still believe in prayer as opposed to opposition. I know that I may die one day at the hands of governing authority that find me like Daniel, but I remain in prayer and not opposition, find me like Esther, risking my life for the lives of others through negotiations girded underneath with fasting and prayer and on my knees in prayer while being stoned like Stephen for my passion to serve Christ and not like Bonheoffer who originally thought he had to get involved over and above prayer in his quest to topple a government that God ordained into leadership in the first place.

      • nopew says:

        Yes, 2 things. In Romans Paul challenges us again that if we suffer let it be for right, not crime or sin! It’s what we do in relation to authority.
        And yes, Esther risked all, risking breaking cultural norms (the King could have had her executed for entering without an invitation). So we, as you say, need to risk for the right and good, pushing the limits if necessary. We agree on all this, I am just saying that I do not see Romans telling us to igore injustice (see the prophets). So like Nathan or Esther we must, with faith and in love, address injustice. Accountability is my point.
        (And yes thank you for discussing this. I never saw Esther in the context of risk just like this till I just read your comment. Gotta grow or else I shrink!)

      • evanlaar1922 says:

        ahhh – yes, I see where I failed to communicate well here too – absolutely on the side of not ignoring injustice and love accountability – in my head I was think how we do that – my answer was prayer as opposed to trying to topple the government – does that make more sense?

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“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman′u-el” (which means, God with us)." Matthew 1:23 RSV

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