Facing Uncertainty: Authority (Part 4)
We all seem to be experts in some things while not so much in others. That is, once we discover the truth about a matter, we are confident discussing it, while we tend to stay away from things that might expose our ignorance. I experienced this respecting one particular topic.
Since I have always been a bit of a free spirit, I have occasionally had individuals challenge me respecting my understanding of “authority.” Whenever this happened, I usually deflected because I knew deep down that I lacked knowledge, not of what authority was, but about its legitimate application.
In fact, I usually perceived the motive of the people questioning my understanding of authority with wanting me to “line up” with their view of authority or more disconcertingly, wanting me to subjugate myself to them and/or their “authority.” That is, someone was exercising an authority I was not comfortable with, but I simply could not explain why I felt so.
This went on for years. I knew I was not clear in my own mind, so I was always doing what I could to avoid having this discussion. I needed clarification as to what “authority” was as well as when, where and how it applied to anything. I diligently searched for answers, aware that my limited understanding could be restricting my actions and that I could be on the wrong path.
Then it happened. I experienced another pivotal moment that provided me with insight and information that helped clear up some of my misunderstandings about authority.
While watching a very interesting video series called the Truth Project with Del Tackett of Focus on the Family Ministries, he did or said something that opened my eyes, allowing me to see what I had not envisioned before. I still remember hitting the pause button and running into my office to record what had just been revealed to me, before I could forget it.
The main problem I discovered about my understanding of authority was actually very simple. Considering that I understood most other things as having one of two possible characteristics, that is, things were either true or false, good or bad, right or wrong, etc., my mistake was rather inexplicable. For some reason, I had not seen authority in the same way.
At last, I finally saw that my instinctive opposition to some “authoritarians” was due to the fact that their authority was not legitimate, but rather one that had been claimed or was being exercised without proper “authorization.”
I now had a new mission to comprehend what made an “authority” authentic or, should I say, legitimate and I knew this had to start with a clear understanding of what authority was and where it came from in the first place.
It may have taken a long time, but I believe God has answered my prayers for a clear understanding of what authority is, where it comes from and how it should be exercised. Whereas I once shied away from discussions about authority, I am now comfortable addressing this topic.
I want to spend the next few weeks sharing my understanding with you and I hope to be able to do so in order that you can come to understand authority also. I love teaching and I trust that you are interested in learning about this often-misunderstood topic that rarely seems to enter discussions particularly within Christian circles.
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