Today there was this ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ thing going on in my head during church. Or maybe it was more like a ‘spirit’ vs. ‘flesh’ thing. This has been going on for some time each Sunday as we come in to service and begin to sing. Part of me does NOT want to sing… and my reasoning behind this is the type of music we are singing. I want to praise God without the ‘band’. There is something so amazing and profound about a room full of people lifting their voices to God without accompaniment. But I also love the music we sing with the band. After we sang, our worship pastor said, “Whatever you spend your time focusing on will become bigger and God will become less – it will become an idol”.
Then came the sermon. Lately we have had a bunch of tiny business meetings at the beginning of each service in an effort to raise people’s awareness that we are in need of funds for the future growth of our church and it’s buildings. All in all I know this is needed.. but a big part of me hates that we have to do this during the time we should be devoting our hearts and minds to our God. There is this angry girl inside of me that wants to walk out the doors of our church and go somewhere else. But then when my pastor begins to teach that girl subsides and I become engaged in the message each Sunday.
This morning as my angry girl was rearing her ‘fleshy’ head I nudged my husband who gave me a disapproving look and then grabbed his phone and proceeded to show me Romans 13:1-7 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
As I read tears filled my eyes. This is what I saw when I read God’s Word to me: Be subject to the authority over you because there is no authority except the ones from God. No authority exists without God creating it. So if you resist the authority over you, then you are resisting what God has appointed, which means you are sinning against God. The authority exists over you to expose your sin. These authorities are under God’s authority and they do as God wills. Respect those in authority over you, and give them the honor they are due.
My problems were exposed to me. My sin was revealed through God’s Word. I was mad at my husband for showing me that scripture that so obviously shamed my prideful heart. I didn’t want to be happy with what God had given me.. I wanted only what I want, and only my way. I began to realize that what I had been focusing on was ME. I had been thinking about what I want.. and not what God was doing. I saw my husband as the first broken line of authority in my life. I realized that ‘pretending to listen’ was not submission. I saw the church as a beautiful expression of God’s love that I had stepped all over in my mind through disrespect and untrust for the future.
Immediately after this much needed rip in my pride, my pastor read from Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Again my sin was exposed as my heart read God’s Word: Even Christ was submissive. He did not think equality with God was something to be obtained while he was in human flesh (even though he was God in human flesh!!). He willingly left his high position with the Father to show submission to Him to the point of dying on behalf of others. Jesus showed submission. Am I better than Jesus?
Thoughts flooded my mind…
My spirit: “Your ideas of what you want have become idols, you are your own idol. Submit to the authorities over you: God, your husband, and the church.”
My flesh: “All you have to do is pretend to listen. Just go along with what they say and shut them out. They won’t know.”
My spirit: “Submission is not just shutting them out and pretending to listen… it’s actually listening. You are not submitting if you pretend to submit. I am so prideful. Forgive me Lord! I don’t want to be this!!”
My flesh: “What am I supposed to do God? Just do nothing?”
My spirit: “Do nothing. Seek His face. Pray continually. Make time for God. You don’t know everything. Listen carefully. Be emptied. Be a servant. Submit to your husband, he has been placed over you for a reason.. to teach you how to submit.
I don’t have to live this way, but I DO have to keep my eyes focused on Him to be able to move forward and past this. This is what the Gospel is all about. Christ has done the work that I cannot do – and not just in payment for sin. He has also freed me from the power of sin so that I am able to live a life for God. But I can only do that in His power, and I can only be in His power as I seek Him out through scripture and prayer. I’m not just forgiven, I am His daughter. He is strengthening me just as I do my own son – through the revelation of sin in my life to move past it.
He did the work we cannot do. That allows us to REST in Him. – Pastor Brian
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:1-17