Jesus’ own authority is based on submission. He exercises the authority that has been given to him by the Father. He will not act on his own. His self-definition is to relinquish personal power in favour of becoming a slave to everyone.
He does not have a personal empowerment plan that will create a nation of slaves laying down their lives to make the Leader more powerful. Instead this King will lay down his life to give authority to slaves. If we do not capture this about Jesus, we do not really know what power is.
What does the voice of authority sound like? As his follower in 2014, you are surrounded by many hostile voices that question the authority of your beliefs. You will be told repeatedly:
- Jesus is not whom the Church has portrayed
- Denominations and organized religion are only interested in preserving themselves
- The Bible has no authority and is filled with contradiction.
- Christianity is the most oppressive force the world has ever seen
- You must not share your beliefs publicly because you people are the problem
- You are too afraid to think freely
If you are willing to listen to a softer voice than that of public opinion, sound bytes and high school bullies, you will hear another message.
- Jesus has always been portrayed through an imperfect Church, and his true nature is still visible
- Organized religion is still on its knees seeking direction from God
- The Bible has more authority than its antagonistic critics
- Christians are the most redemptive force the world has ever seen
- We tell our story publicly because we share in the brokenness of human condition
- The gospel frees us to think in hopeful ways
Even in the most widely maligned target of skeptics, the Roman Catholic Church finds a softer voice emerging. Pope Francis has called for church leaders to avoid seeking ‘worldly power’.
“Whenever we let our thoughts, our feelings or the logic of human power prevail, and we do not let ourselves be taught and guided by faith, by God, we become stumbling blocks,” the pope said. “Faith in Christ is the light of our life as Christians and as ministers in the church.”[i]