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We Are Under Authority

One thing that has always bugged me about the creation story is why Adam and Eve hid from the Lord because they were naked. I mean, why were they afraid to be seen by their Creator in the very form in which He created them? And for those who had never seen someone with clothes, why were they ashamed of their nakedness to begin with?

It also says in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve had already made clothing out of fig leaves before they hid from God, so despite what they told God (verse 10), I think there was a far deeper reason behind their hiding.

You see, I don’t think they hid because their bodies were naked. I think they hid because their souls were naked, and for the first time, they had something to hide. They hid because of their weakness. They hid because they did not want their true nature to be revealed. They hid because they knew they would have to answer to God for what they had done. They hid because they were under authority, and they had broken the rules.

Hebrews 4:13 says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” All of us must answer to God for the way we live (see also Romans 14:12). Even the devil himself has to give account to God (Job 1:6). So why do we continue to live as if we are not accountable? Why do we continue to live as if we are the end-all authority in our lives?

The danger with being rulers is that we can let it get to our heads. God gave us just a little authority when He gave us charge over the earth, and in no time at all, we fell to the belief that we could do a better job without Him. But whether we’re generals, lieutenants, privates, or anywhere in between in the Kingdom of God, we must all give report to our commander-in-chief, not only for ourselves, but also for that which we have been given charge over.

We fear authority in our lives, because we fear being seen for what we really are—naked. We fear being seen in our weakness. We fear being accountable for our sin. We fear being held responsible for our actions, because we don’t really believe we have what it takes to do them without failing.

We also fear being asked to do things that we don’t want to do, proving that “submission is not submission until you have to submit” (thank you, Dr. Robert Stearns, for teaching me that very important lesson). If we find ourselves choosing only to submit to what we agree with, we end up only submitting to ourselves.

So because of our fear, we either avoid authority altogether, or we simply give the appearance of being under authority, the whole time clinging to the idea that we can walk away at any time (thus maintaining the ultimate authority and control over our lives). We pretend to be in submission, so long as we’re also in agreement, but we hang on to an escape plan in the back of our minds, should the situation change against our wills.

But being under authority requires absolute surrender. And we need not fear authority in our lives. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth,” (Matthew 28:18) and by His example, His authority was demonstrated through His love.

Earlier in this chapter, I mentioned that the word “authority” actually comes from the root of “author.” Giving God authority in your life is allowing Him to be the author of your life. It’s allowing God to write the story of your life. It’s actually allowing Him to write you into the story of His life.

And righteous authority protects us. It guides us. It gives us peace. It frees us.

Righteous authority (God’s authority) takes the ultimate responsibility for all that happens, which is not to say that we can abandon our position, but is to say that we need not worry about our own abilities in the matter. It means we have all the resources of our Authority (God) at our disposal, and it means we have the backing of our Authority should we run into opposition.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about authority is that a good leader always takes the blame for the failures of his team, and he always passes on the credit when things go well. It’s something I didn’t understand when I was wrapped up in the world’s systems, but which has blessed my life and my leadership skills tremendously. In God’s authority, we find that same lesson. He took upon Himself the responsibility for our failures (on the cross) to spare us (His team) from being “fired” (all puns intended). Being under authority is a good place to be.

Authority doesn’t stop us from being creative (as God is not a micromanager, despite the way many of us act around Him), but it frees us to live our lives with the protection of God, the resources of God, the direction of God, and the abundant grace of God all around us. Are you submitted to His authority?

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