Who's the Boss?

So what's your take on authority? You for it? Or, as my Dad might occasionally say in his native Alabama tongue, "you agin' it?"

I've found that people generally fall into two camps on authority. We either respond well to it, or we bristle against it. We comply or we rebel. We accept or we protest. We obey or we refuse. We heed or ignore.

I've also found that people's response to authority as adults usually lines up pretty well with how they were raised. Maybe you were raised in one of those "modern" families where everyone gets a vote, everything is up for negotiations, and nothing is set in stone.

I didn't.

In my home of origin, when my parents said I had to fold all the clothes before I could go to a friends house, that meant I had to fold and put away all clothes before I walked out the door. When my parents asked me to vacuum the house, I knew I had to vacuum every room that had carpeting. And when they told me I needed to practice my piano before I left for school in the morning, I did it. Now that I think about it, I could have gotten out of piano practice and school with one swoop of disobedience. But, alas, I knew better.

My parents were in charge. I wasn't.

I think that's why I'm really pretty responsive to authority in my life even now as an adult. I generally (and I only use that word "generally" because I can't claim to be perfect; but my compliance is pretty dead on) drive within the speed limit, respectfully meet deadlines set by my editors, comply with my editors' edits, and throw my trash in the receptacle designated for trash. I'm a rules follower and I hate to get called down for using my cell phone when I'm not supposed to, getting in the wrong line at the grocery store or sitting in a seat designated for someone else.

You might think I'm just a scaredy cat or a goody two shoes or a perfectionist. I don't think I qualify for any of those dubious titles. I think I was simply raised to respect authority.

And the greatest benefit of that upbringing is not that I avoid punishment or embarrassment. It's not even that I'm a responsible citizen or a model employee.

The greatest benefit is that I find it very easy to respect God's authority.

This morning I read in Luke 4:31-44 that when Jesus went to Capernaum in the beginning of His ministry in Galilee, the people were drawn to His...

handsome appearance...No.




pretty smile...No.


And they were astonished at His teaching,
for His word was with authority.
(Luke 4:32)

Then they were all amazed and 
spoke among themselves, saying,
"What a word this is!
For with authority and power
He commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out."
(Luke 4:36)

And He, rebuking them,
did not allow them to speak,
for they knew that He was the Christ.
(Luke 4:41)

And the crowd sought Him
and came to Him, and
tried to keep Him from leaving them,
but He said to them,
"I must preach the kingdom of God
to the other cities also,
because for this purpose I have been sent."
(Luke 4:42b-43)

Jesus spoke with authority. He taught with authority. He had authority over the spirit world. And He made decisions with authority.

And at first, this authority really resonated with people.  They liked a man who knew what He was talking about and spoke like He meant it. 

But soon that all changed.

You see, Jesus' teachings weren't that controversial to begin with. But as time went on and it became clear that He was teaching with authority, people began to realize that His authority required obedience, compliance, submission, repentance, change. Ugh.

And when I read my Bible or hear a scriptural sermon, I hear that same demand for respect of Jesus' authority. I can't just cuddle up to Him and admire Him for His love, His grace, and His gentleness, but not submit to His authority.

I can't shout "preach on!" but then just get up on "go on." I have to yield to His instruction.

I started where I did with this blog post because besides seeing that we all need to give Jesus the respect He's due, I wanted to highlight the importance of raising our children with an ingrained respect for authority. It's important, crucial that we teach our children to respect authority from an early age. Not only so they'll obey us, but so they'll respect the authorities God places in their lives as they grow up -- teachers, coaches, bosses. And eventually, when the time is right, they'll also submit to the authority of Jesus Christ in their lives.

By the way, those same children are watching you and me to see how we respond to authority. They'll take their cue from us, undoubtedly.

So I ask you, "Who's the boss?"