But God delegates authority as He reigns and rules over His creation. God raises up human governments. It is God who instituted government in the first place (Rom. 13). That’s why Christians are called to honor and pray for the king, pay their taxes, and submit as much as possible to the authorities in all things—because the authorities are instituted by God. Moreover, He shares supreme authority with Christ, who said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given [by the Father] to me” (Matt. 28:18). So, no ruler in this world has any authority except that which has been delegated to him by God and by His Christ, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus, disobedience to the lawful commands of earthly authorities is ultimately disobedience to God and to Christ because they ordained the governing authorities.
The world has gone crazy in lawlessness, but we’re to be different. Wherever we find ourselves under authority—and we all find ourselves submitting to various authorities—we’re to submit to that authority. Nobody in this world is autonomous. Every one of us has not just one boss, but several bosses. Everyone I know, including me, is accountable not to just one person but to all kinds of authority structures. Throw a brick through a store window, and you’ll find out quickly that you’re accountable, that you’re under authority, that there are laws to be obeyed and law enforcement officers to make sure the laws are obeyed.
Christians are free in Christ, but we aren’t to use our liberty as a license for sin, because even though on the one hand we’re free, on the other hand we remain indentured servants.
We’re bondservants to God. We’re slaves of Jesus Christ. So, even if the rest of the world is running on the track of anti-authority and anti-submissiveness, we aren’t allowed to join in. We’re called to be scrupulous to maintain order. There is such a thing as law and order that God Himself has ordained in the universe. And we’re called to bear witness to that, even by suffering through uncomfortable, inconvenient, and sometimes painful submission to the lawful rules of even those authorities who do not recognize God, for even the godless authorities have been established by God.
I think we all have experiences where we bristle and chafe under authority and under mandates with which we vehemently disagree. Let me just suggest as a matter of practical consideration that if we look to these human institutions or these human persons who are tyrannical, unfair, unjust, and all that, and we seek to submit to them individually or even institutionally, considered in and of themselves, we will find it extremely difficult to submit with any kind of good attitude. But if somehow we can look through them, look past them, look over them, and see the One whom the Father has invested with ultimate cosmic authority, namely, Christ Himself, we’ll have an easier time submitting. We’ll find help with our struggle to submit when we recognize we’re submitting ultimately to Christ, because we know He’ll never tyrannize or abuse us.