1 Corinthians 11
Authority has become a four-letter word. Wait, scratch that… four-letter words are more accepted and often even revered than the idea of authority. We brisk at the concept, puff our chests and assert our authority over ourselves. No one is the boss of me, we declare.
It is such a stumbling block to our faith and our ability to genuinely accept God as the authority over our lives. Do we understand this? It is essential to get this!
God is a God of order and authority. Authority exists in the Trinity itself – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit -- though all are fully and equally God. Jesus, God in the flesh, willingly submitted to the authority of God the Father.
The cycle of life from dependent infants to toddlers to figuring it out teens to students to employees to spouses all include places where we learn to submit to authority. Not only as a means for order and proper development, but to train our hearts and minds toward a posture of authority SO THAT we can willingly and lovingly submit to the ultimate authority of Jesus. The more we buck authority in our training times the more difficult it is to submit to the authority of Jesus. The more we clench our fists around our authority over ourselves, the less our hearts are open to the authority of our Creator and Savior.
Paul has spent much ink ensuring we as believers understand this incredible freedom we have. Freedom paid for by the blood of Jesus. It is good, he says. Why would we go back to a posture of slavery when we are free people? So when he speaks of authority, he isn’t taking something away from us or belittling us or squashing us under the thumb of another. Authority does not equal inferiority. Authority is not about submitting to the whims of the will of another. Jesus was no less God when He was submitting to the authority of the good and perfect will of the Father. Spiritual authority is always in the context of a loving a mutually beneficial relationship. Authority ultimately belongs to God. We are free, but we aren’t our own. And it is a good thing, not a bad thing. We need a renewal of the mind in this space.
I know this is a hard chapter for many to read. But give this consideration…when we bristle at the idea of submitting to anyone’s authority – and I’ll admit, when I first read passages like this, I bristle -- view it is a gut check to examine how we view authority, particularly the authority of God in our lives. Am I wanting to be the boss? Am I wanting to call the shots? Am I wanting to be in control? These wants are planted straight from the devil’s playbook and pit us head-to-head with God’s authority.
Paul uses headcoverings as an example (likely from another question that was asked of him by the Corinthians along with the others he previously addressed). The wearing or not wearing of headcoverings was an outward display of an inward bucking of authority. I’m challenged today to think of all the ways I outwardly rebel against the authority of Jesus as more Lord. The more I truly submit to the authority of Jesus, the less concerned I am about wielding my own authority. I want to fully submit to Jesus, my Lord, and I’m willing to put in the training. What about you?
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