The Authority Issue

We live in a country with authority issues, and it’s not just a psychological or social problem. It’s also a spiritual issue. In fact, one could easily think of it as the most foundational of all theological problems, because everything else you believe theologically is subjected to and under the dictates of the authority issue.

Simply defined the authority issue is the question, who or what do you trust? What sources of information do you consider authoritative and what sources do you automatically distrust.

Who or what you choose to trust shapes everything else you think you know and choose to believe. Think about the current state of the press in America. Some people follow Fox News, and others believe CNBC. Some don’t trust either, but in all three cases, how they place their trust shapes their view of the world.

When one has not developed a capacity to choose the correct authorities to trust, they have all kinds of problems in life. Distrust the police and you have rioting in the streets. Trust into strangers and you will be stolen from. Theologically speaking putting trust in the wrong things has much the same results. Misplaced trust allows the devil to keep you spiritually angry, as well as to lie to you and steal from you.

Some people believe affirm that they trust God and believe they have settled the issue, but this decision only scratches the surface. Now you have to decide how God speaks to you. How God speaks, whether it is through a certain person, a church structure, or personal experience, then becomes the heart of your authority issue.

As a Baptist and Evangelical, my easy answer is that God speaks through the Bible. This would be a great answer, if people would only read it for themselves. Unfortunately most of us do not interact with Scripture independently, so the authority issue is not done. It continues with the question, who do we trust to interpret the Bible for us?

For some people it is a matter of trusting their pastor, or perhaps whoever is standing in their pulpit on a given Sunday. For others it is a favorite Bible teacher. For many it is anyone that agrees with a specific theological perspective. While all of these are not necessarily bad, they are likely to be the manner in which we get lazy with our theology, letting someone else think for us and decide for us what ideas to accept and reject. That is a lot of spiritual power and theological control to give away lightly.

We would better off to keep a constant eye on our own authority issue, so as to keep control of, and take personal responsibility for, what we believe.

Amber’s Ride

Amber looked at herself in the mirror for a long time. Eventually she said a quiet goodbye. Talking to yourself must be the first sign of sanity, she thought.

She locked the shabby studio apartment behind her and headed on foot to the bus station. She put her hand over the $178.50 in her pocket, just to be sure it was still there. She had heard of golden parachutes, but her pocket full of cash was more like a frayed rescue line.

She didn’t stop by the diner where she had worked. There was nothing in this town she would miss. Not her apartment, not her neighbors, not her co-workers, not her customers. Most of all, she wouldn’t miss the person she had become. She herself, was the only one she had said goodbye to.

Amber was going home. Home where she had been miserable under the constraints of decent society. Where her mother tried to run her life and succeeded in sheltering her from every bit of fun she had ever tried to have. Home where the rules felt like a strait jacket on her free spirit.

She had left to try and get away from all of that. Now she was hoping to find it again. All of it.

She had left with an abundance—savings account, credit cards, even a trust fund once she turned 21. She would return with nothing but tough lessons learned. After buying the necessary tickets she had $5.37 left for meals along the way. Hardly enough to cover the five meals over the two days of cross country repentance.

On the bus she read a pocket New Testament. She ordered off the dollar menu at stops. She avoided talking to the other passengers. And she cried, quiet tears, full of old sorrows and new joys. But mostly she planned how to not be the person she had said goodbye to back at the studio.

When she reached the city, she realized she had made no arrangements to get from the terminal to her home. She had no cab fare, no remaining friends, no means but her restless feet. So she walked, it must have been about four miles. Each block passing a little faster than the ones before.

At the door she grabbed the knob and turned, but of course, it was locked. So she rang the bell. She couldn’t stand the wait so she started knocking, until her mother opened the door.

For a second they just stared at each other. Then they embraced, cried, and finally, they spoke. At first both were cautious, but soon there was no stopping the flow. They kept on speaking for the next thirty years, and when it came time to bury her, Amber did so, without regret.

 

This is the first week in a long time that I have been able to post every day except for today. So I went looking for an old story that I had never published on my own blog. I wanted one I couldn’t locate, but found this one. I remember that I originally wrote it for a weekly challenge called Midweek Blues Buster. If I remember correctly it was well received. As always if you like it and want to leave a comment you are more than welcome. 

God’s Will

If you are a faithful follower of Jesus Christ then one of your goals should be to find and to do God’s will in your life. So an important question is, how do you find God’s will? This question probably seems pretty obvious, and it is on certain levels.

For example, if you are deciding what to do about a struggling business, your list of possibilities might include murdering your competitors, or stealing their merchandise. By being familiar with the Ten Commandments you can eliminate these two options and therefore you have come closer to finding God’s will by eliminating some possibilities. Other possibilities on the list might be eliminated because they don’t pass the test of basic morality.

In other words the simplest way to seek God’s will is to eliminate those things that are immoral or opposed to Scripture. But then how do you go further; how do you discern the issues about your personal life that are not scripturally grounded or morally based? For example, who to marry, where to live, what job to take in the church and in life—these decisions also need to be under God’s direction.

So in the details of life, how do you find God’s will? I am going to suggest three ways people approach these decisions. These are ranked from the worst to the best, in my opinion. If you disagree, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

  1. Don’t bother seeking God’s will on the ordinary matters of daily life. Instead assume God does not care about these things, and therefore those are the decisions that are up to you.
  2. Put the matter before the Lord in a prayer by giving Him a choice of a sign to speak through. A Biblical example of this is Gideon putting down the fleece. For you it might be anything from what the weather will be like on a certain day to whether a light stays green as you approach it.
  3. Allow God to speak to you in relationship. This means being active in prayer but instead of seeking God’s answer in an external sign, listen for an internal, still, small voice.

I believe the Christian life is a relationship and it’s in that relationship you will find God’s will. The first possibility above is not accurate because it assumes a disinterest on God’s part, or partial lordship. The second can have some application, but is so easily abused I would prefer people shy away from it. It quickly becomes the equivalent of putting God in a box, making Him do what we want instead of vice versa.