SUBMISSION OR REBELLION
By: Pauline Lee
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So we know there's no perfect church. And we know Christ is the head of the church. And we know it is essential for us to submit to authorities that God has established (Rom 13:1). And we know rebellion is not of God (Rom 13:2). But what if submission is unto those who have abused their authority? And fear creeps into our servanthood and the authority condemns instead of commends (Rom 13:3)? So what if fear leads to spiritual destruction that ultimately leads to authority worship instead of Christ worship? That is why God provided a way out by giving us conscience (Rom 13:5). Submission is with conscience.
Samuel Rutherford was a 17th century pastor and theologian who was raised in Scotland. Rutherford demonstrated unusual spiritual sensitivity and insight even in the early years of his life. He was also the professor of Latin literature at Edinburgh University. When he was ordained, he had a fruitful ministry until he was removed from office and placed in the prison at Aberdeen. His crime? - guilty of "nonconformity". He refused to accept the doctrines and practices of the state church. He was a man of faith driven by conscience.
Many centuries earlier, Paul the apostle had a similar imprisonment for his faith and "nonconformity".
Does this mean we should all rebel? Certainly not! If you look back at my earlier post entitled "THERE IS NO PERFECT CHURCH", you will know that the only way out of this confusion is the Bible. God has provided all the parameters to help us build our church. God has instilled in us His Holy Spirit and a conscience to make a decision. God has given His perfect church to us - the Lord Jesus Christ.
So we see a "ball and chain" circumstance here - which to choose or neither? If we know our church is not acting in good faith and against the word of God, we should take the "chain" and be like Paul (Philippians 1:12-13). Do not be trapped. We can still see God in the bigger picture and we will submit to His divine authority. Christ is the overriding authority in the church. Consequently it is our duty to relieve ourselves from the governing authority that has abused their position of power. It should be our prayer attitude to seek God for a new authority.
Very true again. Strangely enough, I'm writing a series on Ecclesiastes 3 at the moment through my website, and the latest installment is on "a time to plant and a time to uproot". There are times when it may be God's will for us to stay exactly where He has planted us for a very specific reason. There are other times that He will make it very clear that we need to uproot (even if we don't necessarily want to). The most important thing is that our attitude while we are planted (or being uprooted for that matter) doesn't become bitter and contaminate those around us. Again, you've presented food for thought. With love, Deb