In his 1576 treatise Six livres de la république (“Six Books of the Republic”) [Jean] Bodin argued that it is inherent in the nature of the state that sovereignty must be:
- Absolute: On this point he said that the sovereign must not be hedged in with obligations and conditions, must be able to legislate without his (or its) subjects’ consent, must not be bound by the laws of his predecessors, and could not, because it is illogical, be bound by his own laws.
- Perpetual: Not temporarily delegated as to a strong leader in an emergency or to a state employee such as a magistrate. He held that sovereignty must be perpetual because anyone with the power to enforce a time limit on the governing power must be above the governing power: impossible if the governing power is absolute.
We tend to have a hard time with the concept of a Sovereign. As Americans, we enjoy a democratic society wherein we bestow power and authority on our leaders and demand accountability for the actions they take (sometimes). So for us, the concept of an entity that perpetually has absolute and final authority over us without our consent is absolutely abhorrent. As such, as Christians, we often put blinders on to the reality that we are under the authority of a Sovereign. Yet, over and over again, we invite God to be our Sovereign.
We call Jesus our Lord and Savior. We’re cool with the Savior part, less so with the Lord part. The Hebrew people so revered God that they wouldn’t say His name. Instead they came up with the term “Adonai” which is ” A Divine name, translated “Lord,” and signifying, from its derivation, “sovereignty.”” (http://www.studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T214) We sing songs like “Praise Adonai” and we pray to the Lord and we lift up the name of the Lord, but we don’t understand what we’re saying.
Sovereignty is absolute.
An important attribute of sovereignty is its degree of absoluteness. A sovereign power has absolute sovereignty if it has the unlimited right to control everything and every kind of activity in its territory. This means that it is not restricted by a constitution, by the laws of its predecessors, or by custom, and no areas of law or behavior are reserved as being outside its control. For example, parents are not guaranteed the right to decide some matters in the upbringing of their children independently of the sovereign power, municipalities are not guaranteed freedom from its interference in some local matters, etc. (Wikipedia)
If God is our Sovereign, we forfeit all rights to ourselves and our own authority. Our houses aren’t ours and our jobs aren’t ours. Our families, our futures, our finances, our very lives belong to our Sovereign, God. He has the right to do with them as He pleases, regardless of our wishes. This would be a horrible prospect if our Sovereign were malevolent. Thankfully, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Ps. 103:8) That doesn’t mean that He makes our lives smooth sailing. It does mean that God exercises His sovereignty in ways we don’t understand or appreciate. It’s here that trouble emerges. We’ve acknowledged His sovereignty, praised Him for it, but when it goes against what we want, we rail against His authority and behave like the spoiled rotten children we are.
I know a little something about this. I’ve watched God exercise His sovereignty in my life and in the lives of my family over the last few months and then did what came naturally — I wailed and cried and yelled and questioned Him. The problem is that I (and every Christian with me) am a citizen of two worlds: Earth and Heaven. I think we all would acknowledge that God has absolute authority over our lives, but we don’t like it very much. We want the final say.
So what’s to be done? Daily, we must surrender our will and our hopes and our dreams and our worries and our families and our finances and our homes and our jobs and our futures and even our very lives to His sovereign will. We must be on the lookout for the moments when we reach to snatch back that authority. And we must truly mean what we say when we invite Him to be our everything.