Authority; September 5, 2021

Luke 22:25-26 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”

Human nature hasn’t changed since creation, so despite all the external, technological and social changes, the Bible is still perfectly relevant to us today. The first half of this sounds exactly like the politicians we see in the news every day. America, being the first country explicitly founded on Biblical principles, refers to those in authority as “public servants,” but those who genuinely think of themselves that way seem to be a pretty rare breed. The current pandemic has really brought that out, with so many of the “elite” promulgating rules simply for the sake of exercising authority and displaying their motives by the way they ignore the very rules they make. They demand we “follow the science,” all the while ignoring or actively squashing genuine science, punishing those who question the experimental “vaccines” and denying or actively forbidding inexpensive treatments that have been shown to be remarkably effective. We can’t change other people, but we can watch our own heart and stand up for the truth. In current society, particularly in tech circles, youth rules, so Jesus’ words about “act like the youngest” might not click, but in those days, the younger you were the less authority you had, period. All other things being equal, seniority always came out on top. Jesus isn’t telling us to abdicate authority we have been given, but He is telling us not to stand on our authority and wave it around. It is easy to see that society around us is very “Gentile,” even if those in it happen to be Jewish! The Japanese term for “Gentile,” which actually captures the original meaning, is “people without the Law,” in other words, outside of God’s covenant. That’s why the first verse of this passage is so accurately descriptive of society as we experience it. The thing is, those who are God’s children by faith are not to be that way. We are always to take Jesus as our role model and live to serve, serving both God and our neighbor in love.

This applies as much to me as it does to anyone, and I must never forget it. Japanese society still has a lot of respect for age, and the fact that I turn 73 in a week and a half gives me a fair amount of clout. I must never misuse that, just as Jesus instructs us here, but act as though I were the youngest on the team. The Lord has indeed taught me a lot over the years, but I have ignored more than I have absorbed, and I must always be ready to learn from any source. The Lord has given me a message on “Listening Prayer” for this morning, and I had better practice it myself! I have always had a very ambivalent relationship with authority, particularly my own. At times I have acted like a petty tyrant, and at times I have been bad to the congregation by failing to exercise the authority with which I have been entrusted. I’ve still got a lot to learn! That awareness should help me “act like the youngest,” as Jesus instructs us.

Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s easy to get all incensed over the behavior of others and fail to recognize how much I am like them. Help me walk in both humility and assurance, acting as Your agent as You intend, but never thinking I’m anything on my own, so that Your will may be accomplished in Your way for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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