Continuing our series on The Treasure in the Field, A Submissive Spirit
In God’s Kingdom, we not only learn to live under God’s authority. We are also raised up to “reign with Christ” (Rev 20:4); we are made to be both kings and priests (Rev 5:10). This is a heady prospect: to exercise authority as well as to submit to authority. How are we to do this, and yet avoid the warning in Lord Acton’s famous dictum that “power corrupts”? We must discover Authority without Authoritarianism.
Jesus was not crowned King of Kings because he was the Son of God. When Paul says, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place” (Phil 2:9), the word “therefore” is emphatic. That which goes before explains why he was given pre-eminence. He was given a name above every name, not because he was God’s Son, but because he was a perfectly obedient man. The scriptures make it clear that the pathway to the throne which he walked as a man is a road down which we are expected to follow.
Jesus never ruled on his own behalf, and never forced himself upon others. His authority was authenticated from above, and acknowledged from below. He himself never pushed it. He longed to gather people under his wing, but sadly they were often not willing. He left an example of how God always intended authority to be handled. The Kingdom of God assumes that government will be implemented on the earth. But men and women in leadership, in whatever sphere, should never be grasping for authority. If their calling is genuine, God will establish their authority.
If we want to take our place in the kingdom with a mandate to rule on behalf of the King, we must first show our willingness to be ruled – both by God, and by those whom he has placed in authority. This is the antidote to authoritarianism. And whenever a person shows himself to be submissive in heart, that God-like trait inevitably qualifies him for responsibility.