It is a Tough Thing to Understand Authority

5 In the same way, I urge you who are younger: accept the authority of the elders. And everyone, clothe yourselves with humility toward each other. God stands against the proud, but he gives favor to the humble.

6 Therefore, humble yourselves under God’s power so that he may raise you up in the last day. (1 Peter 5:5-6, CEB)

Learning to live under authority is never easy. When you are younger and watch “elders” just goof things up, it’s easy to say, “I am to submit to that?” (Besides, when you are younger you just know everything.)

Submission isn’t about the elder always being right and the younger being without knowledge. It is learning to understand authority. When we understand authority in this life we will understand God’s authority over us. If we keep going around authority in this life, or ignoring authority in this life, we will not fully submit to the will of God in our lives. We think we will, but he will guide us into something we don’t agree with at some point in our lives. And we will argue and even ignore him.

Authority is a tough thing to understand, especially in an era where we pump into youth the thought that they truly can do “everything.”

It’s only when we get some years on us that we understand we sure don’t know a whole lot!

The Issue of Authority and Submission

Peter spends quite a bit of time on authority and submission in his first letter. He addresses slaves, wives and husbands.

Slaves are called on to submit to the authority of their masters. It is in this context that we get a beautiful passage on Jesus enduring suffering for our sakes.

He did so entrusting himself to the one who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23, CEB).

Wives are called on to submit to their husbands. Husbands are called on to submit to their wives by looking out for them first.

Part of the issue of submission (and lack thereof) is our inability to trust authority. We look at human authority and think, “How do I trust that?”

We even think, “Why should I trust that?”

Lack of trust may seem noble. “When you prove I can trust you, I will.”

That may seem noble because it puts leadership in a place of earning trust and not just leaning on their title to hold a position. In many ways that is a good thing.

However, on another level, the lack of trust is also a lack of faith. It is not trusting God to deal with the authority over us. Jesus submitted entrusting himself to the one who judges justly.

We may not “trust” the one in authority over us in the physical realm, but can we trust the One who is ultimately in authority? This is why Paul and Peter could admonish their readers to pray for those in authority. Pray for the emperor, even if he is the one ordering persecution.

In our day, with our lack of trust, we “pray” for our leaders, but how we pray too often is dictated by our political beliefs rather than our biblical understanding.

You may not “trust” your boss. You may not “trust” your spouse. There may be very good reasons for that in the physical realm. (And understand in a marital situation I am NOT advocating anything regarding an abusive situation.) You may not “trust” your government.

But can you trust the One who judges justly? Will you submit to his ultimate will and authority? When we learn to live in submission, we will find true authority. We will find God really can be trusted to work things out.

This will lead us to Peter’s concluding thought in this passage:

8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, sympathetic, lovers of your fellow believers, compassionate, and modest in your opinion of yourselves. (1 Peter 3:8, CEB)