Treason In The Kingdom

Treason AureliousRecently the youth minister at my in-law’s church in Tennessee was indicted for soliciting prostitution of a minor.

It made the national news. Maybe you saw it.

While it was probably the youth minister’s fifteen minutes of fame, I’m guessing it was not the kind of fame he had hoped for.

Of all the transgressions he could have committed, as a youth minister solicitation of a minor is probably the dumbest. It certainly would have been better for him had he opted for a less grievous sin like failing to put the toilet seat down or take out the trash. But then again, such sins rarely have anything to do with intelligence.  Continue reading “Treason In The Kingdom”

Standing In The Pain Of The Question

Do you like problems? Most people don’t. They are not at the top of my list of favorite things. They detract from my productiveness and require my time.

For most of us, the definition of happiness is the absence of problems, and yet, even after we become Christians the problems keep coming.

While I don’t like problems, I do have a better attitude toward them than when I was younger, and that’s because I’ve begun to understand the benefit of what  my friend Dennis Peacocke calls “standing in the pain of the question.”

Jesus had been conducting a tent meeting healing service out in the country, it was getting late, they were far away from any place for the people to get food and the people weren’t leaving. (Matthew 14:13-21). That was a problem, the disciples knew it was a problem and so they gave the problem to Jesus to solve. Continue reading “Standing In The Pain Of The Question”

A Kingdom Response to Governmental Authority

Courtesy of ©iStockphoto/Nojustice

The last three U.S. presidents have had an emotionally polarizing effect on the electorate.  When Bill Clinton was president, my friends on the right demonized him and complained about him constantly.  They were in a bad mood for eight years.  When George Bush was president, my friends on the left did the same.  Now I hear it again from my friends on the right with regard to President Obama.  All of this makes me think people believe politics are more important than they really are, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The apostles Peter and Paul lived under some bad leaders.  Tiberius Caesar, who ruled from 14 A.D. to 37 A.D. was a pederast.  His successor, Caligula (reigned 37 A.D. to 41 A.D. ), was a lunatic and tyrant, who made his horse a senator and was allegedly involved in incestual relationships with his sisters.  Caligula’s successor was Claudius (reigned 41 A.D. to 54 A.D.), who, if you believe Robert Graves’s I Claudius, was the best of the lot.  But he was followed by Nero Caesar (reigned 54 A.D. to 68 A.D.), who wrongly blamed Christians for the great fire in Rome of 64 A.D. (which some historians believe Nero actually set), threw Christians to the lions and made them into human torches to light his garden parties at the palace. Peter and Paul were ultimately put to death by Nero.

Yet here’s what Paul said about how Christians should respond to their government:  “Let every person be in subjection to governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1).  “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” (Romans 13:7). “…I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all goodliness and dignity.” (I Timothy 2:2).

The Apostle Peter said: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.” (I Peter 2:13-14).

There’s a very practical reason the Bible requires we respect authority. Jesus reigns primarily through delegated authority, and as the kingdom of God advances on the earth more Christians will move into places of authority.  The Biblical admonition of respect for authority contemplates the day when it will be Christians who benefit by that respect.

What do you think? GS

How King Jesus Rules

Authority, not power, is the primary means by which earthly rulers rule.  Confusion arises because the terms power and authority are often used interchangeably, when they are in fact two very different things.  Power is brute force.  Power is physically enforcing one’s will on another person or thing.  When an army overtakes a city it does so by power.  When a boxer defeats another boxer in the ring, he does so by power.  Earthly rulers, however, do not rule primarily by power, but by authority.

Think about your own life, if you are like most people you have lived a law-abiding life even though you have never been compelled by force to do so.  You arrive at work by a certain time each day, not because someone physically forces you to but because someone with authority at work, your supervisor or the owner, told you to do so.  You obey the parking lot attendant when he directs you to the right instead of the left, not because he forces you to but because he has authority over the parking lot.

When earthly kings rule they do so by delegating authority to subordinates, who delegate that authority to their subordinates, thereby lengthening the reach of the will of the king.  A king appoints a minister of defense and gives him authority over the military forces of the country.  The military forces must then obey the minister of defense as they would the king.  And so it goes for each department under the king.

Delegated authority has one very important condition: delegated authority only extends the rule of the king if those to whom the king delegates authority are obedient to the king.  A minister of defense who initiates a war contrary to the instructions of the king has not extended the rule of the king, but his own.  Implicit in the delegation of authority is the condition that that authority will be used to carry out the will of the king.  To the extent the subordinate uses that authority to do his own will, he has perpetrated a fraud, representing to the world by his office that he is promoting the will of the king when he is promoting his own.

These same principles apply in the kingdom of God.  Jesus also rules (though not exclusively) through delegated authority.  Just before Jesus ascended into heaven He reminded His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  Matthew 28:18. Jesus’ words confirm He has been given all the authority necessary to rule and fulfill His role as King of the kingdom of God.   But as a general rule, that authority is only exercised on the earth when those under Jesus’ delegated authority act in obedience to Him.

Think about this:  The Book of Hebrews says that after Jesus ascended into heaven “…He…sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.”  Hebrews 10:12-13. In I Corinthians the Apostle Paul makes a similar statement saying of Jesus that “…He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”  I Cor. 15:25.  Here’s the question: How can Jesus reign at the same time that He is waiting?  And how can Jesus put His enemies under His feet if He is in heaven? The answer:  By means of delegated authority.  Jesus is waiting, just as an earthly king waits after delegating the authority to subordinates, for His people to carry out his instructions on earth.

Jesus puts His enemies on earth under His feet in the same way an earthly king overcomes his kingdom’s enemies—by delegating authority to others to accomplish His will.  Not only has He chosen to do so, but He has chosen gladly to do so. Luke 12:32.