Submission and oppression are both terms used when dealing with authority, but there is a big difference between being submitted to authority and being oppressed by authority.
When you look at authority, it’s like looking at an organizational chart. God is on top because He is the ultimate authority. Christ has been given the authority to be the head of every man and also the church (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-25). Next you have the governing authorities which include presidents, rulers, governors, church leaders, heads of households and also corporate leaders.
To be in authority means to have the power to influence or command thought, opinion or behavior. You’re an example setter.
But no person is in any authoritative position unless God puts him there.
Every person is to 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 be subject to a person of authority means to submit to the discipline and control of a superior. Submission is the act of submitting to authority or control of another. This means you try to follow the laws, rules, or standards which have been set.
There are, however, different kinds of people in authority.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 Paul talks about those who are born of Christ are one body with many members. That you can not only say you are not part of the body, but you also must recognize that each part has a purpose in order to make the entire body work correctly and that you can not say to another member we don’t need you.
A body can not see without eyes, it can not hear without ears, it can not walk without legs and can not grasp without arms.
God calls each of us, whether in authority or not, not be good example setters. He calls us to work as one, being united through the Christ. There are many in a position of authority who are good example setters. They encourage people to put aside their prejudices whether it is racial, sexual, or ethnic and help them to work together in unity. Galatians 3:28
They recognize that it takes all people to make things work. They humble themselves and treat people as equals, sharing the load. They give those who are under them the tools, ability, responsibility, and training necessary to complete the tasks assigned to them. They work as part a team, listening to the ideas and creativity of everyone on their team, and they encourage them to work together to reach a goal. Though none are outside the authority of God, these are the ones who will give their people the flexibility and encouragement to follow their heart in helping those who are outside their authority, giving them, shelter, food, clothing and other basic necessities. They do all things not to promote themselves, but to promote something called love.
There are also bad example setters. Ones who are prideful and arrogant, exaggerating their own worth, giving the impression that they are superior and making others feel inferior. They brag about their position and wealth and they do not treat people as equals but place themselves on top. Some even put themselves over God. They are ones who do not give the tools necessary to complete tasks, but insist they be done anyway. They do not work as a team, but are in command and expect others to do their bidding, whether right or wrong, giving the impression that all are servants to them. They discourage unity and encourage prejudice. These are what is known as oppressors.
Oppression is the abuse or misuse of authority. The Greek word for oppression is Tok (Toke) and it means an unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power. Those who are oppressed will have a sense of being weighed down in body or mind.
Being submitted to this kind of authority, however, does not mean you should go against what the Word of God says is wrong. You should always remember that when it comes time, it will be the Lord you must answer to, not man. You need to have trust in the Lord go guide you and protect you because you are submitting to His authority over man’s authority.
In Exodus 1:15-21 the people of God were being oppressed by the king of Egypt. He even tried to get the midwives to put to death any child born that was a boy, but to let the girls live. In verse 17 it says “But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.” The midwives recognized Gods authority over man, and trusted in the Lord to protect them because they would not do what they had been taught was wrong according to God’s word.
Remember that to fear the Lord does not mean to be afraid of Him, but to highly revere Him and the midwives did this by putting their trust in the Lord. God not only protected them, but He rewarded them for their obedience. (Exodus 1:20-21)
Where we fall short or things seem to be out of our control, God’s strength and love move in and win the day because He is in us. It is God that will save his people from oppression, because as Jesus said “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
If you keep reading Exodus, you will learn that the Pharaoh was able to command his people to start killing the boys which were born, but God then saved Moses in order to later bring His people to safety. But you need to see that though Moses was guided by God to lead His people to safety, it was not man, but God that saved his people from oppression. Just as the Lord has been with His people always in the past, He is with His people now and forever because of His love and compassion.
You need to drop the pride and humble yourself – have love for one another, work as one body, and do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
The Lord has been constantly putting the word choice on my heart over the last year or so. Remember always that whatever choice you make, it will be God, not man that you will have to answer to. It is time to choose to follow the word of God and do what is right- humbling yourselves and treating people as equals, to show love and respect to those around you, or to choose to continue to be prideful, putting yourself over others.
For those who refuse to repent and do not turn from their wrongful acts, know what the word of God says.
Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; assuredly, he will not be unpunished. Proverbs 16:5