Our Source of Authority

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“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”  Mat. 7:28-29

“Mom, you have authority.  You just have to find it in you!”  My son declared this to me in reference to my inability to get our dog to listen to me to stop barking. “You know.  It’s like being a parent,” he added.  The irony of my own son admonishing me this way made me chuckle.  “Yeah, you’re right,” I responded.  Somehow, when my son commanded the dog to stop, she stopped.  But when I did, well… 

Find authority within us.  Nice thought.  Especially when it means people actually listen to us and follow our directions. 

Next question—where and how do we find it “within” us?  Is this something reserved for the confident, strong-willed, “alpha” types among us?  The ones who speak with such unwavering assurance that no one doubts or discounts them?  Like the old commercial that stated, “When E.F. Hutton speaks, everybody listens.”  I’ve never met E.F. Hutton, but I’ve met people who everyone (or at least most people) listen to.  I’m sure you have too.  They start as kids on the playground that call the shots as to what game will be played, how it will be played, and who can play.  Then they grow up to become bosses, managers, government leaders, etc.  Some use this natural authority in a kind and caring way.  Others bludgeon people with their bossiness and mow over anyone that gets in their way.

Yes, there are “born leaders” who either get put into positions of command and government, or force their way into them.  But this doesn’t guarantee true authority.  True authority consists of people not only having to listen and follow, although that may be part of it.  True authority involves people wholeheartedly embracing what someone says or directs, and then owning it as something they believe, to the point where it changes their behavior. 

So, what about those of us who aren’t naturally authoritative in our speech or manner?  What about all the parents, teachers, or anyone who has to lead anyone for any reason?  This is where my son’s admonishment to “find it (authority) in you” encouraged me.  Not because either of us were thinking of a cosmic, new-age “force” of energy to be tapped into.  Rather, the statement that I already have authority simply reminded me of what I too-often forget— that the day I put my life in God’s hands, I received the Source of authority. 

The One who created the universe, the almighty, sovereign, Lord has chosen to dwell among us—Immanuel, “God with us”.  For all who open the door of their heart to let Him come in and take charge, that same King of the universe dwells within us. (2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20). That’s authority.  As long as we use it His way, representing Him, we have His full backing when we speak and act.

A policeman’s authority doesn’t derive from his uniform, his badge, or even his gun.  It derives from who and what he represents – the government and its laws.  Anyone can go out and buy a uniform and a badge, and a lot of people pack a firearm.  But if they’re not really police, who needs to listen to them? Imagine someone shouting “Stop… in the name of me! …in the name of my favorite TV sheriff! …in the name of…!”  If it’s not “…the law”, no one will stop, and no one will take him seriously.

The people of Jesus’ day were amazed at the authority of His teaching.  They’d never seen or heard anything like it from their religious and political leaders.   That’s because those leaders had only their own personalities and quoting others to back them up.  They could only represent God as much as they had true relationship with Him.  Jesus, the Lord Incarnate, represented Himself, with the full authority of perfect wisdom, power, and love inherent within.

That’s the Source of authority— the ultimate “Alpha…” “…and Omega” (Rev. 1:8), Who enables even “marshmallow moms” to speak with authority when we need to!


Julie TofilonComment