Authority. We like having it, but we don’t like someone else having it over us.
We have been reading from the first chapter of Mark, and one of the key things Mark is trying to accomplish here is to establish Jesus’ authority. He does this first by tying Jesus to the prophecy of Isaiah, then the affirmation from heaven “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” at His baptism, then moving through his confrontation with the Devil in the wilderness, casting out demons, the way that others listen to him, healings, etc.
We are told in Sunday’s passage (click here to read it) that Jesus “taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” While this no doubt includes some subjective sense of authority in Jesus, I suspect that it also means that Jesus did not simply refer to other’s opinions. as the scribes generally did, but simply stated His own opinion and assumed that had authority.
What really has authority in your life? Of course, we do not have a simple, single authority in our lives. There are many factors that feed into our choices and actions. Personal taste and preference, spouse and family, employers, children, finances, the opinions of others, our own internal moral “compass,” our faith, etc. And not all decisions are the same. What to have for dinner, deciding who to marry, and deciding how to respond when asked to do something that is ethically shady are very different decisions and will call on different “authorities” in our lives. I have a hard time seeing that we need to look to Jesus when we open the refrigerator, but our faith may have more to say about decisions like who to befriend, who to marry, or how to respond to shady ethics.
An honest look at what factors into your life choices is a good place to start, but the next step is to be intentional about moving those factors in a more Godly direction. We build that habit by intentional choice, then it becomes habit and finally it is ingrained in us. When you face decisions, pause and ask yourself, “What does my faith say about this?” “What have I learned about the Lord that might inform this decision?” “Have I seriously prayed about this?”
This does not guarantee easy or simple decisions, but it does move us toward more Godly and God-informed decisions in our lives. That is how we intentionally place ourselves under the authority of Jesus!
This column appeared in the January 28, 2018 issue of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.