Hebrews 13:17 & Authority Issues

If one has authority issues they have God’s issues. God has ordained various kinds of authority structures in His creation.

Man over the earth – Genesis 1:26-28
Husband over his wife – Ephesians 4:22-24
Parents over children – Ephesians 6:1-3
Government over citizens – Romans 13:1-3

Here we see God’s authority structure for the church. The congregation is to submit to and obey its leadership. Throughout scripture there are a variety of terms used to refer to the same office that these leaders occupy. Primarily and most often they are designated elders. They are also referred to as overseers, and surprisingly to some, they are least often called pastors. These are different words to describe the same office. It is God who calls these overseers and makes them shepherds of His flock (see Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians elders in Acts 20:28). Pastors are His gift to His church for their edification (Ephesians 4:11-12). When the church fails to follow godly, Biblically faithful leadership, she does so to her own detriment and sins gravely.

Rebellion against godly pastors, is then, rebellion against God. But it is worse than just saying that God had a bad idea. Authority isn’t just an idea God has, it is who He is. He can delegate authority because He has all authority. He is Lord, He is King, He is the supreme authority.

Further, within the Trinity we see that though they are all equal in essence and equally God they have different roles. The Father sends the Son, and the Father and the Son send the Spirit. God is the head of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3). Authority and submission do not then always necessarily imply that one party is of greater value, dignity, and worth than the other, but they may simply mean that the parties involved have different roles. God the Father and God the Son are equal in worth, but they have different roles. Likewise husband and wife are equal in worth, but they have different roles.

However, God’s authority over us is of a different kind all together. We are not equal to God in any way. Having loved the serpent’s lie and desiring to be God ourselves, we hate His authority. So rebellion against any authority demonstrates our attitude toward the Sovereign God who orders all things. In hating authority structures, especially those of the church, we don’t simply tell God that He had a stupid idea, but that His very being is stupid. This blasphemy is seen to be amplified in the church for Godly pastors seek to lead God’s sheep not according to their preferences, but according to God’s precepts, that is, God’s Holy Word. The faithful under shepherd’s delight isn’t that you are following him, but that you are following the Chief Shepherd (3 John 4). And submission to the King’s yoke is light and easy. It is where we find rest. Under His rule, we all find peace.

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