On occasion we speak about authority in religion, putting emphasis on God’s authority in the things we do as the body of Christ in our worship to Him. This is most appropriate, and we ought not to minimize it like, unfortunately, some do. Not only are we to operate this way, but our respect for authority needs to be in place before obedience can express itself properly.
To respect authority is to look at one who is in a position that demands attention and submission. One’s parents are in position that demands attention and submission; one’s teacher is the same. The submission that one gives to a parent may not be the same that one gives to a teacher, but there is similarity.
When the Lord said to His disciples that He had all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), He did not delegate that authority to anyone else. It is still His authority, and it is to Him that we submit ourselves. To not submit to His authority do is to fall under the disappointment and disapproval of the Lord Himself (Luke 6:46).
How does one show respect toward authority? One shows respect toward authority by submission, that is, by obeying the one who is in position of responsibility in exercising that authority. This can be done willfully or unwillingly. If it is the latter, then respect is in mere appearance, not in substance. If it is the former, then respect is not only in the deed (act of submission), but in the heart (substance) also.
While toward man we might feign appearance of respect, there is no such feigning to the Lord. To man we don’t answer, but to the Lord we must.