“You not the boss of me!” The memory of my younger sister at around age 3 belting out this proclamation to my aunt is one that definitely makes me giggle. However, if I am being honest, there are many times in my life when I have responded the same way with my actions, and even more instances where the voice inside my head screamed it at top volume. This doesn’t really seem to be my nature. I have always been the one that strived to abide by the rules and respect the authorities in my life. Parents, coaches, bosses, police officers, judges, teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, game wardens, umpires, referees, elected officials, pastors, team leaders, and even older siblings — these are just some of the authorities that God places in our lives throughout our time on this earth. Most of us seem to find incredible value in these people… until we are challenged by their leadership. But these are just normal humans. Jesus lived a perfect life as he walked this earth, yet for some reason, we still frequently struggle to yield to his authority. And he is God!
As we navigate through life, there seems to be a natural struggle when it comes to authorities, their roles in our lives, toeing the line, being submissive, and finding a balance. The truth is that God is on his throne. He is sovereign. He is holy. He knows all. He goes before us. He plants our steps. He allows us to choose, but he never leaves or gives up on us. He sets things right. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. My grandfather used to say, “God said it. I believe it, and that settles it.” When we get back to the basics of living for the Lord, it starts with just that: living for God, following his commands and seeking to honor him. What if we began to look at our obstacles as opportunities? That is just what God is affording us: the incredible privilege to learn and grow more in love with him and more dependent on him by responding in a way that testifies that he is in control.
God gives us two basic commands: love him, love others. If I love God and love others, I will know how to respond to the authorities in my life. It doesn’t mean that the road will always be easy. It doesn’t mean that they will always be right, or that I will agree with their leadership styles, but I can trust and always know that God is in control. He works all things for his good. Remember, a diamond isn’t revealed from coal after a luxurious process. It is only through insurmountable heat and pressure. The cross was ugly. Jesus was tortured. He was brutalized. He took on the sins of the world for all time. At any moment, he could have put a stop to the process. He has been and will always be omnipotent, but he is also omniscient. He knows all. God knew that forgiveness for us could only be provided by his wounds. He always has a plan. We simply need to trust that God is God. He continually brings beauty for ashes. Remember, by his wounds, we are healed.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
— Genesis 50:20 NIV
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
— Titus 3:1–2 ESV
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
— Hebrews 13:17 NIV
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
— Psalms 115:3 ESV
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
— Romans 5:1–5 MSG
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
— Romans 8:26–28 MSG