Unpracticing Authority

I was in the kitchen helping prep lunch a little Christian gathering and I drifted over to the drink station where I saw another lady & man discussing making the coffee and how much and when, the man said something about we ladies had the authority to decide how much coffee and when because we were in the kitchen fixing lunch. How weird is that?

I was getting ready to go to sleep as the storms were growing close to the shared cabin-bunk I was sleeping in, I was excited, I love storms during a camp/retreat. I don’t know why I just do. We are all full-grown adult woman in this bunk-cabin so I imagine no one will cry through this storm, like I’d been use to in other precious camp experiences. One of the ladies decide she’d like to sit on the porch of the cabin as the storm passed through, to which the older ladies cried out in dramatic-ness that she’d be struck by lightening if she sat out there! …so much for no childishness over these storms, I thought. Much to my surprise after a little bit of debate the first lady stayed inside (bored) because she chose to ” submit to the authority” of these years-aged woman. Now that’s crazy, I thought.

What “authority” are these people talking about? And what’s it have to do with prevailing over (what seems to me to be) common sense? You like storms and you want to watch it, you’re full grown adult, watch them outside if you want. You want plenty of coffee and have made it multiple times before, make some more for everybody! What’s the problem here?

I’ve never heard of authority being used like this. …nor submission. Let’s clear some thing up and define terms a little, maybe?

“although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love” -Philemon 1:8-9

Paul has authority to demand the right and/or perfect thing to be done. All Paul has to do is give the words and they go out with authority like a commandment, but he doesn’t because this Paul. The same Paul who introduces himself at the beginning of the letter as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus”. The prisoner, the servant, the bond-slave… Paul’s idea of credentials and authority were very different than our modern business society.

Servanthood. That’s what I know. There’s a concept that I grew up with, serving one another. It’s the leveler. There’s no need to appoint authority when we are serving one another. …Moreover there’s no reason to give authority when we are not serving one another. Authority is almost obsolete if we are living in the example of Christ Jesus, and is invaild among brethren if we are not living in the ways of Christ Jesus.

Authority practiced and stretched out is more likely an abuse, than actual authority. Because if you must practice authority, then something must be very wrong… more so than even running out of coffee in the midst of three-a-day 2hr lectures. We are called to serve and practice love one to another, if someone enjoys watching storms we should not indoctrinate them with fear, but appoint them to the wisdom and hands of God “ok, but be careful and come in if you feel it’s too dangerous” that should be our response. Using, taking, or practicing authority should be reserved for the severest situations, and not practiced to perfection. Servanthood will lead us to perfection, just as Jesus showed us in his life when he set aside his authority to practice servanthood.

Jesus was strong.

Strong people can remain calm & in-control. Crazy and/or insecure people must yell, scream, and be dramatic to show a false authority. Strong people can serve one another without fear, because they instinctively know the power and authority it takes to be and to remain a servant. It takes the strength of pure-love. One can not be a good servant or authoritative figure without a pure love.

When Paul appeals on the basis of love he also empowers Philemon (the reader) to become an authoritive servant in Christ Jesus. Paul gains authority by giving it away to other faithful servants of Christ.

We need not to practice or appeal to authority within the brethren, instead we need to practice and appeal to love and servanthood. We need to reason together, because this is the example which Christ Jesus gave to us to live by. And since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Grace & peace brethren


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