Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chafing Under God's Authority

The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
Psalm 2:2-3

As soon as he shoved that musty cushion over the opening to block me in I knew I had made a mistake. I was one of the younger kids in the back of the van. The older kids had found a small square storage space tucked underneath the back row and were testing their courage by taking turns getting "locked" in for increasing amounts of time. After a while my urge to fit in with the older kids was too strong. My sister advised against it, but I volunteered. An older elementary boy, who was somewhat of a bully, was to serve as my jailer. I made him promise to let me out after five seconds, and I crawled into that small square opening. He shoved the cushion over the opening and locked me in with his legs. I started to panic immediately. I pushed against the cushion and screamed. I realized that I was completely under his control, at his mercy, and I did not trust him. 

That's the thing about being totally under someone else's control. It's a quick way to reveal how you feel about the person, whether or not you trust them. That's the idea we get in Psalm 2 as well. Pagan kings have been subjected under God's Messiah and His rule is intolerable for them. They have decided they do not like this God or His King, and are determined to rebel against His authority. They want to break their chains and throw off their shackles of servitude to this God. The sign of God's authority feels unbearably oppressive to those who hate God and rebel against Him. 

But how do similar signs of God's authority feel to His children? Do they feel oppressed? Do they also wish to be free from the bonds which tie them to their Savior? The Apostle Paul certainly did not. He was fond of introducing himself as a servant of God. (Romans 1:1, Gal. 1:10, Eph. 3:7, Phil. 1:1, Titus 1:1) In Acts 21 we learn that God's plan for Paul's life literally puts him in chains like the kings in Psalm 2. (Acts 21:31-33) Paul's response is telling in its contrast to that of those kings. He made no effort to escape imprisonment. In fact, God revealed to him through the Holy Spirit ahead of time just what would happen and Paul continued on toward that end. When other believers tried to convince Paul not to go up to Jerusalem where he would surely be imprisoned, he responded like this: Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 21:13)

Paul trusted God. He was happy to be in chains as long as it was God who was still in control. Paul was simply happy to be spent in service of his Master. For the believer the idea that God is in control is a comfort because we know that God can be trusted. But for the sign of His authority on their lives makes them chafe.

Our response to God's commands, His providence in our lives, and even the difficulties we face reveals the nature of our hearts toward God. It can give us an indication of sin in our lives. Do you trust God or do you rebel against Him? Do you resent the direction He is taking your life or are you simply happy to be spent in the service of your Master? Join me in praying for a heart that trusts God in all circumstances and welcomes service in His kingdom. 

For further reading...
  • Acts 3:13 & Phil. 2:1-11- Jesus Himself was called God's servant. He was willing to humble Himself under God the Father's authority even to the point of death on the cross.

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