By, Isam Itson III
Matthew 8:5-10 – When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I do not like it when people disagree with me. Depending on how strongly I feel about my opinion or how well I slept the night before, I might even become angry with them for not seeing things my way. I can waste hours, even days, fussing and fuming over their lack of reason or empathy. When I slow down long enough God reminds me that they answer to him, not to me. They do not have to agree with me.
We are all people to whom God has given authority to rule. God has created us and redeemed us to take responsibility for the well being of other people and the realm of earth as representatives of his power, love, and presence. And God holds us accountable to how well we represent him. But we have no control over how other people respond or react to us. Though there are real consequences, they are free to say no to us.
The centurion who came to Jesus for the healing of his servant, recognized that the real issue with Jesus was a matter of authority. He did not just come seeking a miracle. He came acknowledging the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. The centurion had the clearest vision of Jesus to this point in Jesus’ ministry. He knew Jesus was in charge and accepted Jesus’ authority.
Recognizing and bowing to God’s presence with us and authority over us is at the heart of our faith. We know one of the main reasons the Pharisees had trouble seeing Jesus clearly was because of the fact that Jesus refused to bow to their authority. Often, we have trouble walking with God because God refuses to do things our way. By extension, we often have trouble with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ because they fail to see things exactly our way. This even extends to our preferences in song selection by the worship leader, the pastor’s preaching style, and the church policies ratified by the church board.
There is no authority except that which has been established by God. God sets one in authority and removes another. Trusting God as supremely sovereign is a great test of our faith when we do not agree with decisions made by those he has placed in authority over us. That is true in how we respond to our political leaders, but it is especially true of how we respond to our church leaders.
God expresses his overarching authority over the earth indirectly through human beings. He gives every human the power and authority to serve him as a means of grace and blessing to one another. God does not give us power and authority to serve our own ends. He has not blessed us with power, vision, and intelligence for the fulfillment of our self serving desires. God has created us and redeemed us in Jesus Christ to honor his love, not to indulge our lust for power and control.
Voluntary submission of our God given power and authority to those whom God has placed in temporary positions of authority over us is vital to the growth of our trust in God. Submission to their authority teaches us how to recognize and submit to God’s supreme and immediate authority. Their presence in our lives trains us to value and recognize God’s presence in our lives. God is in charge, not me. My life is in his hands, not my own. God covers me. I do not have to cover myself. I simply have to use the life, wisdom, talents, and opportunities that God has given me to bless others in his name.
Do we trust God with his training of our church leaders? Are we willing to suffer long, to be patient with them and keep my heart open toward them, as they grow in their faith? Are we willing to trust God and pray for our church leaders as God works on their hearts and renews their minds? In other words, are we willing to be as gracious with the people whom God has placed in authority over us, as God has been gracious to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the powerful presence of his Holy Spirit within us?
1. Pray for the leadership of your congregation and community.
2. Pray that they would accept and act upon the wisdom of God.
3. Graciously submit to their oversight until they mature, or God removes them.
4. Stay faithful in your God given service in the church, at work, and in your community at large.