As I sat watching the news coverage of the events in Ferguson, MO last night, I had mixed emotions and many thoughts. Although I am not directly affected by the chaos, I asked the Lord to show me what I can learn and how I could be used to help — if that is even possible. I want to share with you what He spoke to me. You may not like it.
I really don’t want to address the death of Micheal Brown. Yes, it is very, very sad. However, I do not know what happened. I was not there and the reports have not been released. So, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
The issue I want to address is the issue of authority. Where does authority come from? Why do people really dismiss it? And how does this include me?
As with everything else, the Bible has clear answers. From the very beginning, the issue of authority has been at the forefront. In the garden, Satan used the issue of authority to attack Eve and the chaos of sin entered the world. Her creator had commanded she and Adam not eat of a certain tree. The enemy planted a lie in her mind that went directly against what God had said. Satan was really, really good at deception then, and he is really, really good at it now. Eve usurped the authority of God and chose to be her own authority, as did Adam. And therein lies our every trouble. Virtually every problem you can imagine in this world stems from this event and this issue. That is a huge statement, let it sink. When Satan has his way, we always care more about ourselves than we do about God. We always think our way is better for us and we are convinced we somehow deserve what we want regardless of what He says about it. We usurp the authority of our creator and the enemy wins a battle in our life. The Bible calls this sin, caused by our own pride, self-centeredness and unbelief in His truth.
Turn on the news and you will see the battle raging. Satan has planted lies in the hearts and minds of people. God’s word, truth, says this: “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. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1-2) Check out the next two verses: “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, 4 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.” In other words, if you do good, you won’t have any reason to be afraid of the authorities. Really! Gee, should we be surprised at the Bible’s wisdom? I’ve never in my life been afraid of getting shot by a cop. Why? Well, I’ve never been a trespasser or a thief and I would never show an officer disrespect. If I have been the one in the wrong — like the time I ran a stop sign and the time…okay, times…I was speeding — I knew I had rightfully earned my tickets. (Although, generally, I don’t get a ticket because I have also learned to earn favor and forgiveness by being extra sweet when policemen approach my window. :))
Now, I know some of you are saying, “what if the authorities are bad?” Bad how? Like if they begin to agree that robbing someone’s house is no problem and you should get away with it? Okay, that is a bad cop. Like if they allow your husband to beat you and your children, allow people to cook meth on your street and men to abduct and sell girls into the sex trade? Okay, that is corruption. We should rise up against it because the Bible never agrees with supporting and upholding sinful behavior. But, if authorities are working to stop the bad guys and keep the good, innocent guys safe, submit to their authority. They have reasons for what and how they do things. Submit because they’ve gone through training and you haven’t. Submit because they have the good guys interest at heart. Submit because God, your ultimate authority, SAYS YOU SHOULD.
So how does this apply to little ole’ me. Two ways:
1) I am a parent. Are you? This issue of authority begins early. Do you remember when your child hit that 18 month mark? (I realize you’ve tried to forget.) Do you remember telling them NO, them looking you straight in the eye and proceeding to do the bad thing anyway? Did you teach them what it means to submit to your authority then? As parents, we are the ones who instill this in our children and ultimately in our society. I can’t fix what has been done in Ferguson, but I can fix what happens or doesn’t happen in the Rowe house. I will, as my parents did, teach my children what it means to listen to and respect authority. My first grade son just left for school less than an hour ago. He knows it is his job to obey his teacher, to follow the rules and to submit to the authority of his principals. Every rule in place is for his safety, protection and learning. If I didn’t agree with the rules, then my child would not attend or I would work to help get the rules changed. But, I won’t encourage disrespect or lead my child to believe they can act out because they are part of a “messed up, corrupt system.” Whether I am with my children or not, they understand that they are children. Being a child means you are not the boss. They know that if I have entrusted their care to someone else, they can trust that person and that person has authority over them whether they are at school, church or in the big slide line at the fair. Teaching children obedience is far from easy. There are days I feel like I am talking to a brick wall and I have to pray the Lord will guard my mouth and give me patience to not lose it! (Can I get a witness?) But, I know this issue of authority will translate to their adult life. If my husband and I, with the Lord’s help, can pull this off, our children will be able to work peaceably under a boss, they will be able to learn from those who know more than they do and they will be able to succeed. MOST IMPORTANTLY, above all else, my prayer is that they choose to submit to the ultimate authority of God in their life. They will heed to His word and His will because they will understand that they are not supreme. The world does not in fact revolve around them. They are not number one. He is.
Not all parents operate this way. MANY, by example, teach their children to disrespect authority. Many teach their children that respect is earned and that they don’t have to respect or listen to people they don’t like. This is a lie Satan has planted. We should be teaching children that respect is not dependent on how others treat us, but on how we have determined to treat others. As a speaker who has spoken to over 85,000 students, I assure you, disregard for authority and disrespect are a problem. I’m trying to tell you this problem begins in the home and ultimately with the parent’s position and belief about a higher authority.
2) I need to check my own life. What God reminded me last night, is that I need to refresh my commitment to teaching respect for authority in my home. I need to support my husband as he parents our children. I need to check my own heart and surrender my own pride. I need to be the example by continually submitting to the authority of God, knowing His great love for me and recognizing that He has my safety and learning on His heart.
So, I guess the question is this: Do YOU have an issue with authority?
The truth is, Ferguson impacts us all.