Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1 ESV)
This is a contentious issue because there are many authorities who abuse their power for selfish gain. Some oppress people and in worst-case scenarios execute their citizens for no reason other than to maintain their governing positions.
Paul explained that authorities are “servants of God” and they carry out “God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” On the surface, it may look like evil because many people are victimized by tyranny and suffer through it. The questions often asked are: How can a good and loving God allow all this to happen? and Is he not living up to his name of Protector and Provider of his people?
Just because these things happen does not necessarily mean that he is nonexistent or does not care. We just don’t have an explanation for it all and know that sin is the root cause. Remember, our world was never supposed to be this way. We are to blame because we disobeyed God. So consequently, we live on a broken planet filled with sinful people, where it’s awful to see all the bad events unfold.
Originally, the Lord wanted us to trust him as our King, but we chose to depend on our own kings and governments. Our choice to be independent from him made a mess of everything, and now we are complaining and bickering over laws, politics, and bad leaders. We brought this on ourselves after he gave us fair warning:
“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
All of this sounds confusing and complicated, but we just have to accept the fact that God knows what he is doing and we don’t. He is not bound by man-made constitutions and laws. He is the Creator of the universe and therefore, his word is the supreme law and standard by which we must all live.
Authorities exist so we can learn what it means to be submissive and cooperative. If we were all perfect, then we wouldn’t need leaders and rulers to govern us. We would all make perfect decisions and come up with perfect solutions and live in perfect harmony. Yet, we are far off from being perfect which is why we need God. If we don’t learn how to respect authority, then how can we learn to follow God?
When God delegates authority, he also places limits on them. Remember, his decrees trump everything else. If they commit evil acts, he will surely punish them. It may seem unfair that they are prospering and getting away with anything, but their judgment day is only a few short hours away. Just read about Pharaoh in the book of Exodus and you will understand that the Lord doesn’t turn a blind eye to evil.
Yes, our world does not make sense and the ways of God are a mystery, especially when we see the continuance of evil. But we should not let that discourage us. Jesus said that we will have tribulation, but that we should also take heart because he has overcome the world.
His second arrival is approaching, and that is where our focus should be: on Jesus, his power, and his authority. Everything will be fixed, healed, and restored in due time. Therefore, we need to fully trust him while we wait. And while we wait, we must not “grow weary in doing good” and go about our Father’s business, telling everyone about his plan for salvation and showing them his love.