AUTHORITY – DEMANDED OR INVITED?
Jesus is the Ultimate Authority and yet He waits to be invited into our lives! What should that tell us about authority?
His teaching and example are very clear that His Authority is never demanded…we must invite Him in! As The Author, He teaches and models for us what True Authority is so we need to know and apply His Truth about authority to any position of authority that we have been given or placed in as well!
I have the awesome opportunity and privilege to teach and share the Love and Lordship message with a couple of addiction rehab residential facilities as well as in prisons. It’s always interesting when I ask them, “What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the word, ‘authority?’”
The first and most immediate replies, and nearly always with negative tone, connotation and body language, include the following and usually in this order…Police, Judge, Courts, Government, Parents, Teachers, Pastors, Coaches, etc.
Most people equate every one of those people or positions of authority as negative and push against those in authority and the related system because they are seen as controlling and none of us wants to be controlled!
God’s design is to always move from the heart of the individual to the relational, into community and then the system. If we do not teach and learn real authority in our families we’re going to naturally, in our own selfishness, reject and rebel at all levels.
You get the idea…authority is most always associated with systemic authority and seen as controlling, demanding and “lording it over” to use a Biblical phrase. We imitate what we have seen and experienced so we practice authority as controlling and we push back against the same from others…all contrary to God’s Word and Christ’s teaching and example.
Turns out this is not new at all? Remember worldly authority is all about control – always has been since the gate was shut on Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden…Paradise Lost! Actually that was the serpent’s final straw – “You can be like ‘god(s)’” – you can be your own lord…in control. And we’ve been biting on the wrong fruit since then!
Worldly Authority…The Sword and The Scepter – Matthew 20:20-24
Even Jesus had to deal with the same thing. In the story in the Matthew passage above we read that James and John (2 key disciples) sent their mommy to ask Jesus if they could reign and rule with Him…“sit on His right and left hand (thrones of prominence and “authority”) when He entered His Kingdom?” Now don’t get too upset with just those two because the other 10 got “indignant” (good old King James Version of the Greek word that literally meant, “ticked off”).
They all wanted to biggest seats, swords and scepters when they got to RULE in His Kingdom! Are we any different? Don’t we all want those seats?
You know that as soon as they realized and believed that Jesus was The Messiah they were chomping at the bit and waiting to reign with Him on Thrones of Glory.
Surely they had entertained such thoughts and spoken to each other,
“Peter, can’t wait until Jesus’s Kingdom is here and we can stick it to those Roman guards and the entire Roman Empire! Can’t wait to get my sword and scepter!”
“Yeah, John, and we can put those haughty synagogue leaders and rabbis in their place as well. They think they have a monopoly on God, leaving us out when it comes to choosing their disciples. But we know God’s Son and He chose us as His disciples so we’ll get to rule and reign over all of them and all of this with Him!”
So the other 10 apostles were ticked because they hadn’t acted first to claim the top spots in Christ’s Kingdom! They had so much to learn and yet these were the 12 that Jesus chose that would eventually “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) with His Gospel message…that means there’s hope for all of us.
How did Jesus react to their worldly desire and claim for authority in His Kingdom?
“The Last Shall Be First…Serving Is Real Authority” – Matthew 20:25-28
Jesus did not blow up at them and dismiss them as prideful, worldly brats with no hope of leading His Kingdom. He calmly and respectfully captured the teachable moment to let them know what true authority always is, summed up in three points:
- Authority is not “lording it over,” controlling or manipulating others as that is how sinners and unbelievers recognize and practice it;
- Authority is submitting and humbly moving from the greatest position to the least position, from first to last;
- Authority is serving others rather than expecting them to serve us.
He concludes by pointing to His own ultimate Authority, stating, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
He didn’t just teach real authority, in contrast to the world’s, sinner’s or unbeliever’s ideas and application of it, He modeled it in a very humble but powerful way.
The Author Models Authority…A Wash Basin and Cloth – John 13:12-16
Does it surprise anyone that Jesus would back up His teaching by His actions? In John 13 we see Him do just that. Jesus demonstrated on the night He was betrayed – the following as the model for His Kingdom Authority:
- He showed the full extent of His love…v. 1
- He did so in Humility – knowing Who He Was and Is….v. 3 – Displayed with Servant’s Heart and Servant’s Hands…vv. 4-5
As He rose from this incredible act of humble service that was a foreshadowing of His sacrificial love displayed the following day as He was nailed to The Cross, He paused to make His most powerful statement that tied it all together:
3. He recounted His service…v. 12
4. He acknowledged disciples’ recognition of His Authority…v. 13, then
5. He explained love, humility and service as Real Authority…vv. 14-16
Finally, He calls us to love, discipleship and authority as He taught and modeled.
Real Authority is Invited Influence
Jesus closes out the dialogue, the teaching and modeling with this simple but profound statement that captures all He has done in love, humility, serving and authority in v. 17, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
The word “know” is not just to have knowledge but “to know how,” demonstrated by following the example and serving others the same way.
We as His disciples are to display the same kind of humble, loving service as the only way to walk in and live out True Authority! As we do so, we are blessed which simply means that Jesus takes our actions and multiplies the impact in the lives of others…influence!
As we live according to His teaching and modeling, as our Authority and Lord, we become like Him and others invite us to have influence in their lives! His invitation is not only to us but also through us to others.
Authority is never forced and it never changes regardless of the position you’re in or the people with whom you have been given authority. It is serving those who invite you into their lives…just as Jesus did…“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:19-21
Jesus, the Ultimate Authority and Gentleman, waits to be invited in to influence our lives! We as believers and as His disciples then are to serve and share with others. As we do we can wait on Him to open doors and as they invite us into their lives we influence them with His Loving Authority and Truth!
Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!
Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – How have you thought about authority? How has that impacted the way you’ve practiced authority in your life, roles and positions of influence?
Love and Lordship…Action Item – Consider the areas where you are in a position of authority… Spouse? Parent? Supervisor? Church leader? Coach? Teacher? Elected official? How have you practiced authority in each role and responsibility? Does it differ depending on the position and people? Should it?