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Under Authority

As I’ve watched Ellie navigate  a new world of authority figures this year, both at school and at soccer, there have been some that just are who they are and don’t phase her and some whose critical natures effectively shut her down.  I am exactly the same way and I really can’t figure out what the common theme is in each of these cases.  Why is it that some people who hold different views from mine and whose standards I clearly don’t meet don’t seem to impact me and others have the power to totally disorient me?  While I know I bring my fear of man and own self-interest into each of these interactions and while I also know that their sin and self-interest bring static to the line of our communication, my desire is to be able to interact with all manner of personalities and all variety of particular sin patterns as Jesus does – loving because of His orderly and reliable goodness, righteousness, compassion, patience and so on and not in response to the other person’s chaos or order in that moment.  I just don’t know how to navigate this one.

That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”  Luke 7:7-9

The matter of being under authority is a tough one.  None of us since Adam and Eve care for it much.  I’d like to be my own authority at all time and in all things.  If you’ve read my thoughts on this blog very often, you won’t be surprised to learn that I’d like to be your authority too, and really have basic mind control over the whole world.  The bit about One God, One Lord, One King and Ruler of all isn’t superficial or superfluous in its inclusion throughout Scripture because our wandering, self-seeking hearts prefer to mute that reality in favor of being our own gods and deciding for ourselves what is right and what is wrong and ruling over others as well.

This powerful commander recognized that he too was under God’s authority, despite the fact that many people submitted themselves to his human rule.  And then he recognized Jesus’ authority came from the Father.  Selfish ambition and vain conceit combine in my most natural mode of interacting with others.  That is why I need for the person and work of Jesus to interrupt, disrupt, derail and redirect my natural man into a reflection of Him.  In humility, not shame, He took on a servant’s nature, not a master’s one.  And perhaps we’re getting to the heart of my issue now.

When I interact with someone who presents their viewpoint with authority over all other perspectives, it both exposes the need in my heart to defend my own position of authority (my sin and need to win “king of the mountain”) and sets them up, in that moment, as my authority rather than God (their sin, and I suppose mine for fearing them more than God).

But what about Grace in this battle for authority?

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim 2:1-5

The Good News is that those people that effectively spin me around or shut me down are not my mediator to God and I am not theirs AND our true mediator wants all of us to come to a knowledge of the truth…not some of us more than others.  I can freely thank God for those He has set in official capacities of authority over me as the tools He has chosen to point me toward Him (sometimes by their light and sometimes by their darkness increasing my need for His light) and I can trust where we disagree, He will unify His body completely when the time comes.  In the meantime, I am only accountable to and unalterably cherished by the only One whose authority has any validity.

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.  1 Cor. 8:5-6

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