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Chapter 3 – Authority in God’s Covenant Order


True Authority in The Home

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  – Ephesians 5:23

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:22

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  – Ephesians 5: 21

The place where the True Authority from Christ begins is in the most intimate of relationships—marriage, family, and the home.  No wonder the enemy relentlessly attacks the home above all else.  He must know that if he can destroy marriage, family, and the home, then he can cripple and/or destroy everything else and that is his only goal.  Husbands, before we ever claim any authority in our marriage and with our wives, and wives before we try to feign any submission toward our husbands, we should note Christ’s example (John 13:1-17) and heed the words in the last verse above: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” 

True Authority in Christ’s Church

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an elder desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.  – 1 Timothy 3:1–7

Other than ‘headship’ in the Home, this explanation of authority in Christ’s Church is the only other clearly defined outline for relational leadership in Scripture.  In describing the qualities of a True Leader (elder/overseer) in His Church, it is very evident that it hinges on five key elements:

1) Godly character and integrity;

2) Able to teach and shepherd others;

3) Servant-leader (manager) in the marriage and family (absence of this clearly negates leadership in His Church);

4) Humble maturity in the faith and;

5) Have a good reputation in the community. 

God is showing us True Authority and the priority of relationships from which it is to be learned, modeled, and lived out. In the relationships of marriage and family, character is developed, wisdom is honed, the humility that comes from wisdom (James 3: 13) is derived, and evidently where every other area of leadership is to come from, including and especially in His Church.  When we miss it in our homes, then we will struggle to find it in Christ’s Church or anywhere else according to The Author.

True Authority in The World

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers…  Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.  – 1 Chronicles 4: 9a, 10

Known as the “Prayer of Jabez” this granted request carries a great deal of insight, not the least of which is the simple fact that Jabez’s honor (character) was instrumental to God’s granting the “enlargement of his territory,” literally “greater influence.”  Character and servant-leadership (True Authority) go hand in hand in Scripture and yet there is a conspicuous absence of defining any ‘leaders’ in Scripture except for in the Home and Church.  God wanted us to learn how to truly lead (serve) in the settings and relationships where the most was at stake. 

John Adams, Founding Father and the Second U.S. President stated, “Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.”  For far too long we have sought our leaders in our state and nation and even churches (public virtue) from those who’ve simply had success in the corporate, financial, or other related realms.  Often this was at the sacrifice of the personal life, the home, marriage, and family (private virtue), the very place where real relational servant-leadership is to begin and be learned.  Maybe we should heed God’s Word and seek our Leaders from our marriages, families, homes, and from Christ’s Church!

The Rest of The Story (refer back to “Authority and Love – A Wake Up Call…”)

I asked Dennis how loving and leading the way he’d always heard and seen it had worked for him?  I asked him how well it was working now? 

This tough, hands-on, blue-collar guy looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, “It never has and it’s not now.”  After a long pause, he said, “I really love my wife and want this marriage to work and I don’t think it’s going to.”

“Then let’s try something different,” I said.

From that moment, we started looking first at the connection between True Authority and Real Love. 

I saw Dennis and his wife some time later and both had smiles on their faces and said things were going much better.  As they walked past me, he smiled and nodded as if to say, “God’s way is much better than mine.”

God’s Word boldly establishes that He (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is The Author and, therefore, the One True Authority!  His Word (Living in Christ and written in The Bible) tells us plainly that if we have seen (know) Jesus, then we have seen (know) The Father – John 14:8-10. 

We’ve laid the foundation of True Authority/Lordship and relational servant-leadership.  Now we’re ready to proceed according to His Truth as The Author applying His Lordship in every part of our lives:  in discipleship, relationships, marriage, family, His Church, and how we can impact our world for His Kingdom.

We’ll look next at what it means for Christ to be Lord.  We’ll dig deeper to see what real or true authority looks like and how we are to honor Him as we apply His Authority in our life and relationships.

In our flesh and in our culture, just as with the apostles, we desire and are told that authority is about being in control.  It’s about demanding the most influence and keeping everything and everyone “under your thumb.” 

However, in God’s Kingdom, True Authority is not about control, it’s about serving.  It’s not about demanding, it’s about giving.  It’s not about being first, it’s about stepping to the back of the line and trusting The Lord.  Why? Because real authority at its heart is not about persuading others to your point of view. It’s about inviting them to Him and them inviting you to share more of Him and His Love and Lordship!

Why is Christ’s the only True Authority and why is His Lordship so important?  Because as Oswald Chambers tells us using the example of Paul of Tarsus life, “The mainspring of Paul’s service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ.  If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow man.”  Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

We can only do this in Christ’s Love and only when He is our Lord, our True Authority.

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – There is a clear connection in Scripture between Christ’s teaching and modeling of authority and how we are to apply that in our marriage and family before we are prepared to do so in His Church

Love and Lordship…Action Item – Evaluate your application of authority in your marriage and home.  Are you leading as Christ taught and modeled?  If so, how can you continue to improve?  If not, what do you need to do?  Are you currently in a position (or desire to be) of leadership in your church?  Have/are you qualified according to how you’ve servant lead your family?