Through the past week or so I have had repeated discussions of authority, forms of oppression and what God’s word says about all the above. We all have authority figures in our lives. Some of of our choosing and some are not. Furthermore, I have never completely agreed with all my authority figures. So what do we do with this?
Well to me the Bible is pretty clear that we are to respect and honor our authority figures. This means that even when you do not agree with the authority figure you have to respect their rules. That being said what about when the authority becomes oppressive, abusive or prevents someone from following God? In this case I believe people are to be liberated. For Jesus came to set the captives free and we are his hands and feet in this world.
Although this sounds simple I believe it is far from simple. For one an abusive authority figure does not go around with a sign on his head saying I’m abusive. Furthermore they are normally very skilled at manipulation, control and instilling fear. Similarly a person in an abusive situation often has a sense that something is wrong but usually helpless to do anything about it. The Bible to full of examples of people quietly enduring oppression through endurance and prayer. It takes someone from the outside to act and put a stop to the oppression. For without a third party to intervene freedom is rarely possible without a miracle of God. God performs miracles mostly through people.
As someone that has been the oppressed I know this all to well. I am thankful for the people that have stood up for me and liberated me. For all authority figures make mistakes but it is a humble heart that admits their mistakes, goes to God to have themselves changed and rectify the mistakes that makes them an authority figure worth leading and being followed.
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:13-25