The military teaches you a number of valuable lessons. For example, you are taught to obey orders from your commanding officer, the chain-of-command, respect for authority, and rank has its privileges. The lesson I want to focus our attention on is obeying authority. We live in a day and age in which disobedience to those in authority is rampant. Much like the repeated theme of the book of Judges, “Every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), no one is in charge. The old adage declares, “If everyone is in charge, no one is in charge.” How true!
What a contrast between our current culture’s view of authority and the view of a centurion in the Bible who came to Jesus to ask for healing for his dying slave. The story is told in Luke 7:1-10. The centurion (a Roman commander of 100 troops) sends Jewish elders to Jesus to implore Jesus to come and heal his slave. This centurion loves the Jewish people and even went so far as to pay for the construction of the local Jewish synagogue in Capernaum. Jesus agrees to go with the elders to the centurion’s house but on the way He encounters friends of the centurion who relay the centurion’s words. He declares that he is unworthy to have Jesus come to his house but if Jesus will simply say the word his slave will be healed. The centurion reasons that “I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. . . (Luke 7:8). Jesus responds that He has never found such great faith, not even in all Israel. Jesus says the word and the slave is immediately healed at that very hour.
To be “under authority” is to be in charge. It is to understand that the one in authority has both power and responsibility. The centurion understood this and he understood that Jesus was in charge. Jesus had authority. Jesus had power. Jesus could heal long distance by simply speaking a word. Jesus had authority over sickness and death. Now that’s authority!
The Bible calls each of us to submit ourselves to those in authority over us. Paul writes, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Romans 13:1). To resist authority is to resist God’s minister. Even in the family there are defined lines of authority: Jesus has authority over husbands. Parents have authority over children. Husbands have authority over wives.
Why did God establish lines of authority? Because God is a God of order not chaos (1 Corinthians 14:33). Without lines of authority, society degenerates into every man doing what is right in his own eyes which leads to anarchy and chaos.
Submission to authority is a wonderful thing,