This is the second part of the sermon I’ll be sharing with Fellowship Church the first Sunday of July:
To say that the bible is authoritative is to say that we ought to submit to it, that we ought to admit that there is wisdom in here that we don’t know. It’s about agnowlodging that this book has something to offer us. But it’s tricky. Because the authority that the bible wields, it comes from God. And the way that God wields authority is not like the way that humans wield authority.
Human-styled authority comes in many different flavors. One flavor is is authority based on tradition. For example, most of us agree that people of older generations deserve a certain amount of deference, especially if they are related to us: has there ever existed an extended family that didn’t have a patriarch or matriarch? And then there is moral authority. For example, a person who has fought for the rights of the underpriviliged earns a certain type of respect from us. There is authority we choose for ourselves as individuals, as when we pick a church and a pastor to serve. On the other hand, there is authority determined by systems larger than us:we all know we get hired and our boss has already been chosen for us. We could probably list off hundreds more systems, people, and organizations that have authority over us.
The interesting thing is almost every single one of these human made authority figures reaches us at a base level, at an animalistic level. I’d speculate that if we had never fallen from the Garden of Eden we would not be so easy to exploit in this way.
Because when something in the world wields authority over us, it is playing on our fear. Or our ignorance. Or our jealousy. Or our our greed. God’s authority is both quantitativly and qualititatively different than the world’s authority.
It is quantitatively different: the sheer amount of authority that God wields over us is greater than anything else in the world. He is the maker of all things. Therefore his authority is greater than the authority of anything else in all creaton.
But it is also qualitatively different. The quality, the nature of God‘s authority is different than the world’s authority. God is love and his authority appeals to the very best parts of us. The very highest.
And I’m not saying that it’s easy to run the world according to God’s way of wielding authority. God’s style of authority requires imagination, it requires courage and creativity and there are times that it’s hard to see how it could work for the world to operate this way at all. .
It wouldn’t work if When a police man pulls us over, we are not really free to say, “No thank you. I won’t take a ticket today. I don’t think I deserve one.” I don’t believe a fallen world full of broken people could be built any different way…
But I am saying that someone living above this fallen world, someone not broken, could.