It is hard to submit to other people. People don’t like to be told what to do . . . or even to have to read instructions!
Since his origin, man has naturally resisted submission to authority at any level. Therefore, this command flies in the face of every natural independent instinct of man. We want to be our own authority. It is the human way.
First Peter 2:13 commands us to “immediately decide to be submissive”; this originates from a military term meaning to “arrange yourself in formation under the commander.”
Everyone is called on to be submissive in a number of areas: couples are to be mutually submissive to each other (Eph 5:21), parents are to be submissive to the needs of their children (6:4), believers are to be submissive to their church elders and pastors (1 Pet 5:5), and employees are to be submissive to their masters or bosses (Col 3:22). Now they are also called on to be submissive to human authority in institutions and governments.
Loyalty to Christ does not give us license to rebel against ungodly, unfair, and cruel pagan authorities. It is not the Christian’s responsibility to be subversive or to overthrow governments, especially in the name of Christianity. There is no perfect government, since all men are sinners—-even in democracies. Followers of Christ are to be a society within a society.
The reason for Peter’s mandate is “for the Lord’s sake”: submission honors the sovereign power of God to raise up and put down leaders according to His ultimate purpose: “There is no power [authority] but of God” (Rom 13:1).
Respect for God is reflected in how we demonstrate respect for government leaders. Neither Jesus nor Paul ever advocated demonstrations against slavery or abuse of justice, nor did they engage in any act of civil disobedience. Instead of focusing on social or political reform, Christ kept the focus on His kingdom (Mark 1:15; Acts 1:3).
Peter declared submission to be “the will of God”; by being model citizens, Christians can “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Pet 2:15) and open the door to permit others to listen to the gospel.
“Lord, why is submission to authority, and especially unfairness, so hard at times? Teach me how my reactions can reflect well on Your reputation. I want to honor Your name before all who are above me at every level.”