The chaos that erupted on a United Airlines flight yesterday should never have happened.
I was in the vicinity of two unfortunate United Airline situations over the past week.
First, I was on my way to preach at the Strike the Match Conference in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada last Thursday. My flight from Chicago to Toronto was delayed most probably due to a fake bomb threat on a Toronto to Chicago flight earlier in the day.
Second, I was at O'Hare International Airport again, this time on my way back from the conference recently (which, by the way, was an electric and supernatural explosion of Holy Spirit power) —the same day passenger David Dao was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight.
The police never should have been called. David never should have been dragged off the airplane. He never should have been bloodied or knocked unconscious. This never should have become a trending story on social media.
David Dao should have obeyed the directive to walk off the plane.
I have to admit, I am disturbed at the number of Christians who are knee-jerk reacting against United Airlines and in favor of the unruly passenger. While the police may have possibly employed regrettable actions, the airline was acting within their rights, just as they do many times a day in similar situations. Submission to authority is an elementary level truth for believers. David Dao and every one of the nearly 1 billion air travelers in the United States agree to very clear, non-negotiable terms when they buy their ticket. The Contract of Carriage allows airlines to remove and rebook passengers.
Complaining, refusing to comply and rejecting the directives of our authorities is ungodly behavior. Period. David may or may not be a believer, but Christians, you should know better.
Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, sons of God, without fault, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2:14-15).
Moses said to the Lord, "Why have You hurt Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your eyes, that You lay the burden of all this people on me?" (Num. 11:11).
My United Airlines Experience
Everybody who travels by air is well aware of the fact that there is a chance you won't make it on time. My trip to Canada and back was negatively impacted both directions. I was exhausted in both instances and easily could have been grumpy and unreasonable with the decision-makers who were putting stress on my journey.
Two flights were delayed on the way to Canada, and air traffic control issues forced the cancellation of my flight from Chicago to home last night. I missed my daughter's birthday because of it. Plus, the airline only paid half of my hotel. I'm out at least $160 for hotel, food, toiletries and so on. Guess what? That's life, folks! I wasn't pounding my fist on the United Airlines customer service counter (after waiting in line for an hour) demanding better treatment. I didn't strong-arm them into finding my luggage that was unnecessarily checked through to my final destination at the gate, by the way, so I could have clean clothes to wear today. I was tired, probably a little smelly and ready to go home. Instead, I emptied my wallet because of no fault of my own, checked into a hotel somewhere in Chicago, slept just a little, woke up early, wore the same smelly clothes today, and finally flew home.
How sad a story that is, right? You have to be kidding. That's simply called travel.
Come on, people. It's not all about us. Sometimes life doesn't go as planned. Yes, the man in Chicago who refused to deplane was extremely in the wrong.
It's our job as lights in a dark world to smile and reveal the life and love of Jesus in challenging and unfair situations and not grumble and demand that our rights be met.
Ironically, just as I emerged from the jet bridge in Springfield, Missouri, I saw the group of people waiting to board the plane for their own flight. The attendant said, "This flight is overbooked and we are looking for volunteers to surrender their seats." I'm sure those who either volunteered or were forced to give up their seats acted much more maturely and appropriately than the gentleman did yesterday.
The Lost Art of Submission to Authority
Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil works. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from him, for he is the servant of God for your good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain, for he is the servant of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him who practices evil. So it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience (Rom. 13:3-5).
We aren't only to submit to authority that is fair or right. We don't turn our submission on and off based on our own analysis of the situation. We should have no fear of authority, of pastors, of leaders, of the police, if we are doing what is right.
Regardless of whether David Dao was treated properly or not, he disobeyed a clear and direct order. He was wrong, no matter how important he believed himself to be. Entitlement must go. Humility and submission to authority must find its way into our independent, narcissistic culture.
As I said above, I'm stunned at the Christians who are instant in their defense and outright celebration of David's clear indiscretion. In today's society, it seems it's the authority that's always the villain. Corporations, pastors, police officers, parents and others are held in suspicion at best and rebelled against without apology at worst.
Airlines absolutely have the right to remove people for any reason. Refusal to comply is against the law. That simply cannot be argued. We are required, per Scripture, to obey. Our supposed "rights" are not more important than our responsibility to submit.
God will always support authority that is wrong before he supports one under authority who is right and in rebellion. Those who don't understand this set themselves up for great bitterness both against authority and God.
We presume God is most interested in right vs. wrong. He is not. He's interested in our response, our reaction.
It doesn't matter if United Airlines was wrong (though I personally do not think they were), David's reaction was unacceptable. The airline had the right to do what they did. They had no obligation to explain themselves. They along with the lawmakers write the rules.
There are many "unfair" rules the flight attendants must enforce on flights. They are irritating. I really don't think my seat being two inches more upright is really going to save me in an air disaster. However, they are in charge. What they say goes, whether it's when we can wear headphones, get up to use the restroom or whether we get to fly that day at all. They—and ultimately, the captain—are our authorities in the air. It doesn't matter if we like the rules or agree with the rules. We simply have to obey the rules. I think introducing, "Yes sir, yes ma'am; no sir, no ma'am" back into our culture would do us all a lot of good.
False Human Rights
From my Charisma News article False Human Rights Destroying the Church and our Nation:
Today we are absolutely overwhelmed by the constant, self-centered shouts of those who demand that their country—or their church—gives them what they believe is rightfully theirs.
It's a false human rights movement.
The right to abortion. The right for same-sex marriage. The right to be equal. The right to be heard.
It's a sickening, selfish focus that is driven by human desire instead of a willingness to take up our cross and die. How often have people left churches because their supposed rights weren't addressed? How much dissension is in the workplace because people are looked over in favor of another?
I've said it before—today, when people's self-centered pursuits are rejected, they abandon relationships, leave churches and cause division, but when Jesus was rejected, He didn't abandon people. He didn't forsake the church.
An offended people will destroy a nation. A surrendered people will build a nation.
All over social media today I'm reading about who was right and who was wrong. Some are screaming that United Airlines was wrong and that David is the victim.
Friend, it's not about right or wrong. It's about our response.
Christians are being tortured, raped and murdered as martyrs all over the world, and we think someone being required to vacate a seat on an airplane is a violation of human rights? We'd have to be sick to think such a thing!
Covens in the Church
From my book on authority, Covens in the Church:
The enemy has caused many to believe that we can't experience freedom while being submitted. This is simply not true.
Freedom from authority is rebellion.
Freedom in the absence of authority is anarchy.
Freedom under authority is liberty.
It must be made clear now that while God desires leaders to serve with great love, humility, passion and care, there are some in the body who simply do not do so. While God will hold those leaders deeply accountable for their leadership, God will hold the rest of us accountable for how we respond to them. Do we serve from a position of great love, humility, passion and care–or not?
Loving submission to authority is non-negotiable and more important now that it has ever been.
God loves you very much and is capable of protecting you even as He has placed you under the authority of imperfect men and women. Remember, we are not to be self-governing in an attempt to protect ourselves from flawed leaders. That is the wrong response to the problem. Using a spirit of control to fight a spirit of control doesn't work. This is the core idea of the entire book. As we submit to those whom God placed over us, be they good or evil, God will ensure our protection.
We may have to go through difficult situations that seemingly limit us, put our dreams on hold or even violate our pet ideas and opinions. The situations may last years, but we must submit in love without failure! God is able to bring us through!
We never speak against or elevate our own opinions above God's established authority. Pastors, prophets, apostles, politicians, policemen, bosses, etc. We humbly support them, unless, and only unless, they were to cause us to violate a clear Scriptural truth. That's it.
It's important to understand that to submit to God's appointed leaders in our lives only to the point where we agree with the order is not submission at all.
Submission is actually spotlighted when someone honors his or her authority when the order is contrary to their own opinions, experience or position. We can agree with our authority while not agreeing with the order or instruction or position. It is never appropriate to remove ourselves from a position of submission if the order given is inconvenient, bothersome or irritating.
Honor of Authority Must Return—to the Nation and to the Church
It's time to crucify our narcissistic, independent flesh and love and honor—and obey—the authorities God has put in our lives. We don't have to be afraid. We can be free.
Today there seems to be a new uprising against the establishment, against leadership almost continually.
We can contend for cultural change. In fact, as kingdom Christians, we have a mandate to do that. But, we do it with intercession, love and honor for our leaders.
God will not affirm those who use control, manipulation, unrighteous anger and an independent spirit to affect change.
Entire movements of zealous intercessors and godly social activists can do wonders in society—as long as their hearts are right.
Come on friends, let's change the world the right way. Let's go the way of honor. God will have our backs.
John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at johnburton.net.
This article originally appeared at burton.tv.
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