By Ashley Orrell-Jones
“Is authority really even that important? Why do we have authority anyway? Especially in America–after all, this is a country founded on freedom. I should be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. #freewill, right? I mean, no one knows me like I know me. I know what I need, and what is best for me. I don’t need anyone giving me direction, especially in my walk with God. My walk with God is just me and God. No one should be interfering with that.”
Have you ever had thoughts like this? There’s no shame if you have. I probably said something pretty similar to this less than 3 years ago. Honestly, I still have thoughts like this every now and then. But I’ve learned something about God in the last 2-3 years that has drastically changed the way I see Him and others, and has brought tremendous blessings into my life.
If you’ve ever read Undercover by John Bevere, Spiritual Authority by Watchman Nee, or Romans 13, you know enough about authority to know how important it is to God. About 2 years ago I started reading Undercover in my first year of Ascent, and since then I have become very cognizant of authority and fascinated by how God operates through it. Then, when Joe Reynolds (leader of Bridgeway’s Ascent School) had me and some other students read Spiritual Authority last summer, I slowly realized that ranking and authority is literally everywhere (including heaven). I’ve learned that when you walk into a room, a really healthy thing to ask is “who is the authority in the room?”. It may seem religious, silly, or overthinking, but I encourage you to try it. When you recognize the rank in the room and submit to whoever is in authority over you, you bring order and unity to the environment you are in. Not only that, but blessings and honor flow from heaven, too!
Now if there’s one thing I am aware of, it’s that God is good. His very nature is love, and whatever He does is better than any other. He loves to love, and He loves me. However, if there’s a second thing that I’m aware of, it is that God values authority, and I never want to violate it. Romans 13:1-2 says “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves”. So basically these verses are saying, everyone needs to submit to those in authority over them because God put them there, and if you oppose them, you’re opposing God. Did you read that? Opposing God. No one who has even a basic level of understanding of who God is is going to want to come against the Creator of the Universe. So, what exactly does being ‘subject’ or ‘submitted to’ authority mean?
Submission means that my heart is for the person over me. It means I want them to live loved by God, to know Him, to prosper, etc–even if I don’t agree with the decisions they are making. Being submitted means I genuinely honor and respect those over me, and I am joyfully obedient to what they tell me to do (unless it violates God’s Word). Let me give an example. Let’s say I work at Denny’s, and my boss asks me to mop the floors. I do not find enjoyment in mopping the floors. My boss KNOWS I don’t like mopping the floors. Heck, our regulars know I don’t like mopping the floors. Plus, I know good and well that my coworker Angela mopped the floors yesterday. I do not understand why she is asking me to mop the floors. But, I think to myself “I honor my boss because I know God put her in my life as an authority. I still don’t really want to mop, but I’m going to mop these darn floors, and I’m going to do a beautiful job of it. I’m even going to choose to be kind to my boss if she points out a spot that I missed”. Two hours later, the floors are clean and dry. The CEO of Denny’s walks in, and asks when the floors were last mopped. I happily get to say “2 hours ago, sir!”. I think to myself “Gosh, I’m really glad I mopped those floors…”
I recently had a dream in which I ran away from home. My parents sent out people to look for me, but I always out ran them. Eventually I found myself alone, and sought shelter in a public restroom where there were other lost children. I collapsed on the floor, and became aware I was in a dream. I heard the enemy in my head try to convince me that God will not take me back if I repent, but somehow I decided I would rather come clean to my dad and take whatever he decides to do with me than keep running. I immediately cried out to him (now God) on the phone, saying “Daddy Daddy, it’s me, I’m so sorry, I sinned against you and I am so sorry. Please forgive me”. Immediately my dad started crying and told me where He and my mom were. I believe in this dream, my earthly dad represents my heavenly Dad. While I’ve never actually run away from home further than the driveway, I have definitely run away spiritually from God. Like I said before though, if there’s one thing I am sure about, it’s that God loves me more than I will ever be able to understand. Even though I had sinned, I believed He was good, and that whatever He gave me when I came back would be better than what I was experiencing collapsed on that bathroom floor. God is good, and His ways are perfect. If God is good, then I can trust Him to work all things to the good of those who follow Him. I can trust Him to work through the authorities in my life, even if it looks like they are making a mistake.
Bottom line? God values authority, and you should too. If you can submit to the authorities God has put in your life, you will go far in the Kingdom, and in your relationship with the Lord. I bless you with a deeper revelation of God’s authority, and to choose to trust the Father and be submitted to His delegated authorities in your life.