Text: Matthew 8:5-17
For those under your authority
For those who exercise authority over you
For those who rest from their labors to their country
For the sick and infirm
A clear problem in our current age is our relationship to authority. We have had so many conversations about authority that our jaws are tired! In our individualistic age we experience the problem that one of my professors outlined succinctly:
+we should be free to act as we want
+someone should be in position to ensure/enforce this freedom.
Our current situation highlights our dilemma, but I do not think that we will be well served by simply railing at those who are seemingly exercising authority too readily, or those who are seemingly exercising freedom too readily. We must begin by recognizing that the problem runs through the center, the heart of each of us, and the only answer to the problem is to turn around, to begin to live differently. Notice I did not say repent, as if feeling sorry is any antidote to “authoritarianism” or “lawlessness.”
The example of the centurion (a soldier on this Memorial Day!) is instructive here. What do you notice about him? He is humble, recognizing that there are opportunities with his authority but that his authority has limits. He does not command Jesus; he asks, suggesting he is prepared to be told no. Moreover, he uses his authority not for himself but on behalf of another, the servant that he esteems. In all of this, he is the embodiment of Peter’s urging in 1 Peter 2:13-17.
It is in Christ that our dilemma is resolved, for in him we are free indeed, and in him we serve others in love. Luther famously declared that the Christian is at one and the same time a “perfectly free lord, subject to no one,” and “a perfectly dutiful servant, subject to all.” Let us love the Lord, love one another and love our neighbors, and trust Christ for the results.
Easter joy ~ Pr. Dave Brooks