Monday, November 22, 2010

Christian Authority is Freedom

Posted by Hannah at 7:00 AM

One of the huge differences that I see within the church is the meaning of authority. We see to often that the church tends to use a worldly use of the authority, and the use of enforcement of that authority. Jesus spoke more than once against that type of authority, and his actions back that up!

Mark 10

There is a couple of times within Mark 10 that Jesus is trying to get across the type of authority he had in mind. This type of authority tends to go against the grain for us humans, or if you will definition of how you and I may define it.
Mark 10:13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.
The kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.  If we do not received the Kingdom like a a child we will not enter it. We need to pay attention to ONE more statement, "I tell you the truth".

Jesus is speaking of a characteristic of humility that children have. Humility is a theme that is spoken about throughout the bible.  Jesus was giving them an example - a visual if you wish - of the type of humility a Christ follower is to have.  He is taking one trait of children that is treasured, and basically asking us not to lose it.
James 4:6  But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
1Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
How often do people use 'humility when they describe those in authority that are known for true enforcement of that earthly authority?  We are CLOTHE ourselves in humility.

Lets go back starting at Mark 10:29
“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then."
The last sentence is speaking of our place in Heaven. The humble - or least important - will be the greatest.  Where does that leave those that 'use authority' in the opposite manner that the Lord intended?
Mark 10:39 “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
   Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering. 40 But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
 41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
When this scripture speaks of the drinking of the bitter cup, and the baptism of suffering?  He is speaking also to the indignant 10 disciples present.  We are to be the opposite of those within worldly authority positions.

Lets look to Luke for an example of authority! When He cast out demons, He exercised authority over the demon, but not the person whom He set free.  When the disciples returned from their mission Jesus made it clear that he had given them authority over serpents and scorpions and all the power of the enemy, but not over humans. 
Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Do not 'rejoice' that spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.  If we wish to 'twist' this verse like the world we could show the 'authority' the world has in mind.  Jesus stated the opposite is what they should be rejoicing about.  You should be rejoicing over your name being written in heaven, and NOT how someone 'submitting' to you.  Jesus states that the authority he has given them?  The power of the enemy will not harm you, and yet according to some followings?  This authority is threatened by all kinds of earthy and human aspects.  What I take from that?  It must not be the authority Jesus gave to them if that is the case.

The nature of the authority of Jesus may be seen in the authority that he used, and which he gave to the disciples when he sent them out as apostles.  He gave them authority and sent them to, “Proclaim the Kingdom of God, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons.”
Matthew 10: 5 Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, 6 but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. 7 Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.[d] 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
Does anyone get the impression in that scripture that Jesus gave them the authority to go out, and remind others since Jesus gave them the authority you better listen or ELSE?  You had better 'respect' my authority?  "I" am in the position to tell you 'what's what'?  Does that attitude give freely as they have received?

When Jesus met them at the mountain after his resurrection, he cited His authority and sent them out to make disciples and teach.  

When He appeared to them on the first day where they were hidden, He authorized them to receive Holy Spirit and remit Sin.

In none of that authorization did He exercise any enforcement of his way of life.  Instead, Jesus invited them to enter the Kingdom of God, which is at hand, and to meet the King.  To know the King is eternal life.  When we are authorized to proclaim the Kingdom we are to let people know that they too might know Jesus so they might be set free, not subjugated in bondage.

When He forgave Sin, Jesus set people free from the bondage to guilt and shame that besets much of the human race.  

The authority He gives us is to do all that He has done for us as well as for others.  He has given us the ministry of letting humans off the hook, rather than hooking them with guilt.  Anyone who uses guilt as a motivation in the faith community is exercising the authority of the world, not the authority of Jesus.

Jesus has given us the authority to share the life that he has given for us and to us.  He has not given us the authority to judge one another.  All of the authority Jesus has given is compatible with Forgiveness.  It is in His love and the forgiving nature of that love that we find the meaning and nature of Christian authority. To often we concentrate on 'worldly authority', and try to melt the two together. 

We do not seek so much to change people as to bring them into the love and presence of the one who is able to recreate them and make them new.  It is not for us to order them about, but to allow Jesus to reach out to them through us to make them His own.

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