Submission is to the Lord
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
1 Peter 2:13 (ESV)
Peter’s instructions regarding how to live in a culture that is hostile to the Gospel includes how believers are to respond to governmental structures that often put pressure on the Christian worldview. Peter reminds them and us that God has instituted certain structures in society and that submission to those God-ordained authorities is submission to God himself. The civil government is for the purpose of protecting citizens and punishing evil doers. As long as the government stays within the bounds of its purpose and is not demanding its citizens disobey the clear instructions of God, it is to be honored.
In our culture that celebrates individual liberty and disregards God’s ultimate authority, this perspective is often lost. When we deny that God is the author of life, we conclude that he does not have authority to demand our allegiance. His authorship and authority go hand in hand. As our culture completely disregards what God has said in the Holy Scriptures, it leaves interest groups competing for power with no ultimate authority to arbitrate. When God is rejected as the creator, his word and order carry little or no weight in directing our lives. It is no surprise then that such institutions as civil government, church, and family are relegated to non-essential agencies of choice.
The message of the dawning kingdom of God that created the new people of God challenges such antinomianism and urges Christians to recognize God’s authority in his chosen agencies. This submission brings order to life and releases the blessings that God has built into his creation. In reality, those who rebel against God, his word, or his agencies are putting themselves in bondage to spiritual forces that will eventually tear down society and enslave those in it. What might appear to be liberty from authority is actually bondage to the vilest authority possible. The master of that kingdom is a murderer by nature, and he operates fully on deception.
God cares about his people and the societies in which they live. He loves those who have yet to hear the good news announcing the arrival of his eternal kingdom. Submission to him includes honoring his chosen agencies and trusting him to work through them for the sake of his glory. It will probably require suffering at some point, but that is not sufficient reason to rebel. God is bigger than government, and his grace is sufficient for all times. Submission to the Lord is the safest place we can find.