Authority, what’s the big deal?
Such seems to be the attitude of many these days. They seem to scoff at the idea of authority and accuse those who speak of such as being overly legalistic. They seem to see themselves as having spiritually grown past the need for authority (legalism in their mind) and reaching a level of spiritual maturity yet to be acquired by the authoritarian legalist. Their attitude approaches that of condescension when questioned by those seeking authority. Does this not seem strangely familiar? Didn’t the Gnostics see themselves at a level above the rest of their brethren and treat with disdain their obviously spiritually inferior brethren who would dare to question their positions?
Jesus said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). When we ask about authority we are showing our concern that those who call Jesus Lord actually do what He says. When we ask about establishing authority we are simply trying to determine what Jesus said we should do. Our attitude toward authority reflects a genuine and very real concern recorded in the parallel passage to the one above, Matthew 7:21-23. We do not want to be like many who place the Lord’s name on what they do, assuming Jesus is pleased, only to learn such actions were without authority. How does one read these passages and not have a grave concern for things authorized and a determination to discover how to authorize actions which will meet the approval of our Lord. We are not trying to invent some procedure which amounts to nothing more than a list of legalistic regulations. We are merely attempting to ascertain what Jesus wants us to do. We seek only to receive the commendation of our Lord. If in the process we receive the condemnation of our brethren, let us remember, “we must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)