Submit to the Authorities?

when you finally start to think that someone should do something, it’s too late. Everyone who might have stood up is discredited, defrocked, mocked and minimalized–canceled– making everyone else afraid to say a word.

Christians who read these admonitions in the scripture to submit to the governing authorities as a blanket statement forget about the stories of people like Daniel, Shadrach Meshach and Abednigo, or even Peter and John who were arrested for refusing to stop preaching Jesus. And they are ignorant of even recent history, and that is supremely dangerous.

Growing up in the sixties and seventies I heard a lot about the evils perpetrated on mankind by the Nazis and Imperial Japan as the war had only ended a couple decades earlier and the world was still recovering from the damage inflicted and trying to understand how so many people could have taken part in, or simply ignored such evil that systematically imprisoned, enslaved, tortured and slaughtered millions upon millions of people in such a short amount of time.

There are many, many lessons that were learned from it all, and it was important that they were, so that we do not go there again. But sadly much of that is now being ignored or minimalized because we as a people generally have very short memories and the devil only has so many tricks. But, because mankind keeps falling for them, that’s all he needs.

The biggest and most disturbing lesson was that people are capable of justifying absolutely anything no matter how evil. The question that was asked over and over at the Nuremburg trials where Japanese and German soldiers who were charged with committing such heinous acts against American prisoners of war, and entire ethnic and religious groups were being tried. How do you justify your actions?

From the top generals and on down to the lowly prison guards who were on trial for war crimes, especially as concerned the concentration camps and the systematic abuse, horrific medical experimentation and slaughter of entire people groups, the defense that was offered over and over again by those who took part in these horrors was this; “I was just following orders”.

The Nazi death camp thing was especially disturbing to the American Psyche because the German people were considered to be good Christians. It was ground zero of the Reformation and the bible first became available to all because of the German translations and the invention of the printing press—the famous Gutenberg bible.

Yet the German people as a whole, good people who went to church on Sunday, raised families and went to work just like decent Christian people in America, all said basically the same thing when asked; “How could you let this happen in your own backyard, to your own neighbors?” “We were just doing and believing what we were told.”

Do suppose that is an answer that will stand up on the judgement day? I doubt it.

It didn’t work for many of those at Nuremburg either. There were a lot of hangings when those trials ended. If you take part in carrying out war crimes against mankind as defined by the Geneva Convention, you are guilty regardless of who told you to do it.

How

As a child I wrestled with that question myself. If I had lived in Germany during that time, what would I have done? It all seemed so black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. ‘How could you let yourself be a part of or ignore any of that?’

Now, not everyone did. In fact many people, pastors included, who refused to submit to the ever increasing encroachment of darkness disguised as social justice and necessary adjustments for the greater good of all, would find themselves in concentration and labor camps as well.

But the majority did not resist, they just went along. It was easy for me to think; “Man, if I had been alive back then, and a citizen of Germany when all this was happening I would have risen up and died fighting to free those who were being tortured. I would have tried to stop Hitler, using any means possible.”

Would I have been justified? Would I have had the courage? Would I have just gone along and drank the now proverbial Jonestown Kool Aid like everyone else? They say the churches that were near the railroad tracks used to time their worship so that they were playing their pipe organs and singing their Luther hymns when the trains passed by as to drown out the screams of the people packed in the freight cars like cattle bound for slaughter.

Compromise

As I grow and mature I understand more and more how a people could get to that place. Little by little, compromise and deception, compromising what you know is right to avoid conflict and allowing yourself to be deceived into thinking that wrong is right. The word of God and it’s absolutes gets replaced with the wisdom of the collective and the experts. Science is used and manipulated to achieve any goal that those in power agree on, and all who want to be somebody sign on with it. We have a consensus! You can’t deny the science!  

And the loudest voices of the morally bankrupt and deceived masses demand their way while never realizing that they are playing right into the hands of the powerful elite who are pulling the strings and fulfilling the desires of the Prince of this present world, Satan, who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking only to kill, steal and destroy.

None of it happens overnight, it happens so slowly and subtlety at first that you hardly take notice and when you finally start to think that someone should do something, it’s too late. Everyone who might have stood up is discredited, defrocked, mocked and minimalized making everyone else afraid to say a word.

And here we are, heading right down that road again. Today we call it being cancelled.

We are to be subject to the governing authorities yes, but only to the point where it goes contrary to the commands of our Lord. At the point we are taking part in the proverbial war crime, it is no longer submission, it is complicity.

There is a higher law and in the end all will stand before a judge who does not recognize the authority of those who impose evil upon a people whom God created to do good works.

When those in charge praise evildoers and punish those who do right, it has overstepped its authority over the hearts of God’s people.

So we have to be very discerning when we read these admonitions in the scriptures so the enemy does not use them to deceive us into participating in evil.

13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 

1 Peter 2

I said it in my Barbarians in the Kingdom book so this is not a new revelation to me; we must be very careful who we are submitted to. Peter is actually telling us here the kind of authorities we are supposed to submit to. Those who punish evildoers and praise those who do good. Paul said much the same thing.

When rulers become a terror to good works, while condoning evil, their God given authority ends.

Today

Are we there yet? In some ways yes, in some ways no.

We need to be very, very careful and use great discretion, display great courage and with all humility seek to live and speak the truth of God’s word.

We must submit to the laws of the land and not be seen as trouble makers and rebels just for the sake of being trouble makers while never compromising what we believe in our hearts to be true.

This takes a lot of prayer, study and a keen ear to the Holy Spirit within.  

15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

1 Peter 2:15-17

God’s heart is for his people to live in submission and obedience—Submission to the authorities and obedience to his word, without compromise, selfishness or spite.

What are we to do now? The short answer is to live honorably, love God and keep doing good, even if it’s wrong.

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s. —Jesus

Heart Storms (Bury the Dead II)

“We are afraid, not because we forget, but because we cannot forget– nightmare experiences where we had no control and felt vulnerable, verbal abuse, beatings, neglect, sexual abuse.”

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Like the disciples who feared for their lives even as they were in the boat with Jesus– as Christians, we often forget who we are with. If we have given our hearts to Jesus, we are safe in the arms of the Savior, indwelt by his very Spirit of power and perfect peace. That is the key to overcoming all our fears and failures, to quieting all the voices of the past and the fears of the future— to remember who we are with.

But, like the disciples sitting literally in the very same boat with Jesus, we forget. We let our past become our biggest enemy, our greatest hindrance to following and moving forward into the perfect plan he has for us, into the perfect healing he has for us. We need to stop looking back, to let the past be the past while at the same time using it for his glory, to strengthen us and even give us a testimony of how we overcame in Christ—“You go and proclaim the Kingdom”—Tell the story, be a voice of hope. ‘Do you know what God has done for me, I was lost and now I’m found, I was blind but now I see!”

‘I was a victim but now I’m a victor. I have followed Jesus and he took me away from abuse, from addictions, from perverts and manipulators, from the sick and demented, from the liars and the hurtful—he has delivered me from evil, I have escaped the dead—and you can too.” —That’s our testimony!

That creaky old boat sailing off into the setting sun to a shore you cannot see is the safest place you have ever been and it is all you need—as long as Jesus is in it. There may be storms but you will reach the other shore and what a story you will have to tell— you may even walk on water.

Don’t let the things of yesterday overshadow the faith you need to survive today. Don’t be like those who saw Jesus do miracle after miracle only to wind  up scared half to death hours later in a storm. Peter saw Jesus heal his own mother in law with a touch, and that same evening loses all hope. Yeah, that storm was bad and very real, but there reactions were really cause by unseen storms, the storms within, that was their real issue, and the one Jesus was concerned with.

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Heart storms

Heart storms, any little thing that goes wrong, any big thing, and suddenly there is a storm released in our hearts. “Lord, don’t you care that I am perishing?!” That’s why we are afraid, we are afraid because we are looking back beyond the deliverance we received, the love and assurances we received just moments ago quickly fade into the darkness of a past that continually boils on the horizon like a summer storm building a perfect thunderhead that looks like it could devastate us. We are afraid, not because we forget, but because we cannot forget.

We need to let go, get free of the past and stop fearing the storms that the world keeps throwing at us. We need to stop looking at the storms and start looking at the one in the boat with us,I am His and He is mine and nothing can change that.’ He is the resurrection and the life and He cannot be destroyed— hence neither can I. If He can calm the storm driven waves He can certainly calm my storm driven heartif I’ll let Him.

Those inner storms are the voices of the dead. The dead keep coming back to taunt us. Things that we thought we buried, things we heard as a child that caused us to wonder about our worth, we buried. We buried them next to other graves that hold memories of nightmare experiences where we had no control and felt vulnerable, verbal abuse, beatings, neglect, sexual abuse. . . .

We finally move past those things and get away from the perpetrators— out of the grave yard—but then we run into more people whom we think love us but end up speaking words of death to us, and our hearts flash back to thoughts of past—lies we thought we left buried.

And we start to wonder—’Were they not lies? Am I really worthless, sinful, stupid, unlovable, worthy of no one better, of nothing better?’

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‘No! I can’t go there again!’ —and we run back into the graveyard frantically digging  a grave for the new lies while the old ones keep resurfacing like the swimming pool scene in Spielberg’s movie Poltergeist where coffins and corpses are popping up from the mud like gophers at Chucky Cheese. Words from a boss, a spouse, a co-worker, a parent’s love and approval we still seek, a manipulative and abusive ex–we keep digging, frantically trying to bury them, but all we seem to be doing is digging our own graves.

The voices of the dead start to feed off one another and we are overwhelmed. ‘I can’t do this, I can’t handle all this, the bills, the kids, the jobs, messed up relationships—maybe I deserve this, maybe I am not worthy just like they said’ —in the midst of it all those voices of the past, the nightmares we tried to forget and the wounds we thought were healed, the things we can’t share with others because they are so shameful— the all come crashing from the sky like waves on a boat and we find ourselves in the perfect heart storm and we cry out: “Lord, help me, don’t you care that I am perishing?

39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4

There are no storms in your life or in your heart that Jesus cannot get you through and even still—there are no voices his voice cannot still. You will not drown, you will not perish, you are worthy of love and deliverance—his love, his healing love.

You will not perish—That’s a lie. Jesus didn’t call you, reveal himself to you—bring you here to hear this message—just to watch you drown.

And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.” Mark 4

Jesus carried your wounds, took them and destroyed them on the cross.

Stop listening to the lies and start listening to Jesus. You heart is in the safest place it could ever possibly be, in the hands of Jesus. Trust him when he beckons —come follow me, as he says to your heart— peace be still.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, keep moving forward. Live in the today he has given you and in the hope of an even better tomorrow. Bury the dead, write them a farewell note of forgiveness and throw it in the hole as you turn away and to Jesus, the one who has the words of life.

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But pastor, you don’t know what I’ve experienced. Perhaps not, but Jesus does and he is not shocked nor overwhelmed by it. He was betrayed by those he loved also.

Those are the worst—betrayals by people you love, people who were supposed to protect you or at least love and cherish you—and if there is a sexual component, it becomes more heinous because then the whole being is affected, body, mind and soul.

The sexual betrayals outstrip them all but they can be overcome as well by the same principle of letting the dead bury the dead and recognizing that you are in a safe place with Jesus.

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