Submitting to Authority
Open Your Bible
Ephesians 5:15-21, 1 Peter 5:1-9, Jeremiah 23:3-4, Daniel 2:21, Proverbs 27:6, Proverbs 27:9, Proverbs 27:17-18
BY Patti Sauls
When our daughters were young, there was a vast difference between a “vacation” and a “family road trip.” A vacation promised rest and relaxation while a family road trip required energy for hundreds of miles in the car. Once the car was packed with everything from bathing suits to trashbags, the road trip pep talk would begin. “Here we go! And, here’s what we can do to enjoy the ride,” we would say. Next came two instructions: trust the driver (no need to complain or repeatedly ask, “how much longer?”) and treat everyone in the car with patience and respect (no fighting).
This public call to exercise trust and respect signaled personal responsibility. Each family member knew that a good trip depended on their attitudes and actions toward each other. In a similar way, the Bible gives us a public call within our church communities and towards the world around us. “All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,” Peter instructed believers (1Peter 5:5).
What a beautiful way to relate to others, right? But when the ride gets long and the passengers get restless, it’s not so easy. In a world that urges us to aggressively stand our ground, how do we respond when our Christian beliefs are challenged or mocked in the public square?
How do we respond when we dislike changes made to our church’s music style or when our pastor seeks to biblically address current issues that make us uncomfortable or defensive?
How do we respond to our next-door neighbor who leaves his trash out, his weeds in the yard, and his car parked too close to our driveway?
How do we respond to family members when they disappoint or challenge us?
The beautiful cloak of humility slides right off my shoulders as I arch my back, nurse suspicion and resentment, and demand my preferences. What does it look like to respond in love when the road gets rocky? How do we know when to defer to others or when to stand our ground? Apart from God, we don’t have the wisdom or willpower to hold a posture of humility. But filled with the Spirit, we can speak truth, sing praise, say thanks, and submit to others (Ephesians 5:18–20). It is God’s Spirit at work within us that results in such a countercultural way of interacting with others.
Will we settle for complaining as we doubt God’s direction in our daily circumstances and relationships, or will we pray for the grace to trust Him? Will we settle for tension and fighting as we selfishly demand our own space and preferences, or will we practice responding to one another with understanding and kindness?
Here we go! We don’t travel alone; we’re in for the long haul together. Let’s trust our driver and humbly offer each other patience and respect along the way. After all, it’s the only way we’ll enjoy the ride.