Six-year-old Johnny runs up to his sister sitting on a swing in the park. “Give me a turn,” he says. She resists his attempts to dislodge her. “You gotta let me have a turn,” he persists. “Who says?” comes the response. “Mum says. She said you gotta let me have a turn.” Slowly, reluctantly, she gives way and lets her younger brother have the use of the swing. Mum says, that makes the difference. It’s all a matter of authority. But authority has to be acknowledged and accepted.
When Jesus drove the merchants out of the temple, the leading priests asked him by what authority he did this. The only one who could conceivably have more authority over what went on in the temple than they did was the Messiah and Jesus was acting as thought he had that authority.
However, as we said, authority has to be acknowledged and accepted. We can call Jesus, Christ or Lord or Saviour, but if we do not accept his authority then we are missing the point. His authority is not the kind that depends upon the big stick; it is a spiritual authority. It is the authority of love. That’s why Paul told the Philippians to follow Jesus’ example of humility. That’s the authority he pointed to in dealing with a conflict situation in the Philippian Church. Pride and arrogance were outstandingly missing in the life of Jesus. So, if we are to have the same kind of outlook that he had, they are to have no place in our lives. You could say that this is our authorized way of life. It comes from the one who has authority over us.
- What authorities do you acknowledge and accept in the course of a week?
- What authority does love have?
- How does arrogance and pride show itself in church life?
- What kind of life are you authorized to live?