This past Sunday after our 9 a.m. service, many of us were standing around outside visiting, enjoying the beautiful weather and the privilege to visit and encourage one another. While we were keeping our physical distance, a police cruiser drove down the road and turned into Meadowcreek subdivision.
Those who noticed the police cruiser responded by taking a step backwards from the person with whom they were visiting. One person asked if I had seen the cruiser.
Our reaction to an OPP cruiser was very telling: we were mindful that we needed to obey the provincial emergency orders regarding physical distancing. And for good reason – we want to honour the authority that God has placed over us.
God, the sovereign ruler of all the universe, is not a power-hungry God. He has no need to be selfish in his power because all authority and power belongs to him. But our God is one who loves to delegate authority. He gives authority to governments, parents, employers, church leaders, and many others.
The reason God delegates authority is so that humans might have dominion over the creation in order to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden as his royal representatives. As his image bearers, they were to spread the rule of God through their proper administration of authority.
But when they did not obey the law of God and chose to disregard his commands, chaos ensued. And ever since that sad day, humans have struggled with power and authority. Humans have a tendency to abuse authority, using it as a weapon to consolidate their grip on power rather than helping lift up people and flourish. And the children of Adam have struggled with a suspicion of authority, wondering if people are merely using power for personal advantage rather than the common good.
Christians recognize this tension: authority is delegated in different spheres for different purposes for the common good, but sin results in an abuse of power and authority. So we are both positive about authority and cautious in its use.
For this reason, we need to think rightly about which way we tend to respond to governmental authority. Are we prone to unquestioning submission or uncompromising suspicion? As believers, we live between the goodness of God’s good gift and the abuses of authoritarianism.
As we have come through a season where we have been limited in our public gathering (but not our private worship), let’s continue to pray for our governing authorities. As they rule well, it will be for our peace (1 Tim. 2:2), the flourishing of our community (Jer. 29:4-7), and for the spread of the gospel (1 Tim. 2:2-4).
Thankful for good authority,
Missional Action Prayer: Lord, thank you for our country. Thank you for the freedom of religion, the opportunity to publicly express our faith, and for just and good laws. Would you keep our land glorious and free? Would you continue to raise up wise leaders who believe in the rule of law, who practice impartiality, and who preserve peace and justice for all? We pray this so we might lead quiet and godly lives, pleasing you, and serving our neighbour for Christ’s sake. Amen.