Authority or Control: Part 1
Authority is often thought of in terms of some sort of control. Those who have the power to make decisions for us, or sometimes the power to make decisions we don’t always agree with. If you haven’t noticed, neither option is actually very favorable. From birth, there are those in our lives who have authority over us. One way or another we are influenced by those very people. Authority was never meant to be seen in a negative way. The world around us uses the term “authority” so loosely, it might as well be used interchangeably with “control.”
The Greek term for the word authority is “exousia.” The term doesn’t apply to power in the sense that most abuse the word, but to rightful and legitimate use of power. “A person has authority primarily by virtue of the position one holds, not by physical coercion or might.” In other words, authority and control are not close to meaning the same thing. Yet those who are rightfully in authority often do not use authority rightfully.
I say all of this to make a point. Authority was never intended to take over one’s will or their right to choose for themselves. Authority expressed by Jesus was never abused. His authority was always expressed in love to those He loved. His love became a boundary meant to protect and to draw us to the Father. Even in His authority, Jesus expressed servant leadership (Matthew 20:25-28). His leadership was the greatest example to all of us of how a leader and those in authority over us should be and treat others.
In my own life I have had many hurtful experiences with those in authority. I have been rejected and wrongly accused. In the past I allowed my hurt to control my submission to authority, or lack of. I became the poster child for rebellion. But God never desires us to stay in that place. He desires that we forgive and move forward. He desires that we pray for our leaders and all who are in authority. From the President of the United States down to our local police officers. We cannot allow the media around us to define how we are to respond to those in authority. We are called to stand in this world according to God’s word.
If you are in a place where submission to those in authority are expecting you to break the law or dishonor God’s commandments, then you are to prayerfully leave that situation. God does not expect us to be in a place where we are at risk of being harmed and abused. You may not like those who are in authority over you or even agree with their every choice, but we are not obligated to be in complete agreement. As a people of submission, we are called to be in unity with God and all He does through us and around us. That may call for times for you to remain in that job or the church you do not particularly like or agree with because that is where you are called to be. We must be more willing to submit than to decide what we think is best. We are not God and I sure do thank Him for that!
Are you experiencing hurt from those in authority? Does it have you feeling on guard against anyone who is a leader or in authority over you? Pray and submit that situation to God. Ask someone you trust to walk with you to seek the healing necessary to build the trust which has been lost. In order to lead, we must be willing to first serve and be led. We are called to a higher and deeper level in our faith. Let’s not allow un-forgiveness or rebellion against authority render us useless in the kingdom of God.
 Steve W. Lemke, “Authority, Divine Authority,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 145.