Not lording it over the Gentiles doesn’t mean that the Gentiles lord it

We have a love/hate relationship with authority.

When that miscreant who cut me off in traffic is pulled over by a trooper a few miles down the road, I’m loving authority.

When I’m late for a meeting, and the same trooper pulls me over for speeding and then tells me I can’t drive away because my license tag light is out, authority for me ranks right below root canal.

Authority and submission were part of the natural environment for mankind before sin and corruption entered the picture. Adam and Eve were to exercise delegated authority from God, and were to establish a relationship of equal worth but different roles, roles which included loving authority and glad submission — leadership and followership.

Since the Fall, authority and submission have both taken the proverbial beating. Authority is abused and submission is resisted.

In Mark 11:27-12:12, Jesus comes along proclaiming what he had to that point been demonstrating: his authority. His authority is to teach, to cast out demons, to heal diseases, to calm winds and seas, to raise the dead. And his authority is to dictate the terms of entry to his kingdom. That is, Jesus decides the terms of salvation.

We learn elsewhere that Jesus insisted that he did not act on his own authority, but on the authority granted him by the Father.

In our love/hate relationship with authority, we tend to believe that the exercise of authority is incompatible with love, and that love could not possibly include the exercise of authority. The fullest expression of God’s love toward man is Jesus, who in Mark spends the majority of his time demonstrating and then proclaiming his authority.

Authority and love are obviously not strangers.

Jesus, the second Adam, came in part demonstrating the loving authority that Adam failed to display. And Jesus delegates that authority to his followers: to make disciples, to lead wives, to train children, to hire workers, to preach Scripture. When Jesus told his disciples not to lord leadership over people, he did not mean that no one should lead, that no one should exercise authority.

Culture abounds with examples of authority recklessly abdicated. The solution is not no authority, but loving authority, and glad submission.


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