Devotion for Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Lectionary Readings for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost:
Collect of the Day: Almighty God, by the working of Your Holy Spirit, grant that we may gladly hear Your Word proclaimed among us and follow its directing; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and forever. Amen.
Hymn of the Day: Christ Be My Leader (LSB 861)
In this past Sunday’s sermon, we covered the topic on how God wants to kill that old sinful nature in us, and make us alive again in Christ through the waters of Holy Baptism. The Law, as we heard in St. Paul’s letter, points out our sin, and even gives our sinful nature the opportunity to sin more, as in the law it sees what God wants and always strives to do the opposite. St. Paul is also quick to warn us that the Law is not a bad thing even though it leads to more bad things happening – No – the Law of God is good and wise. It has authority and we buck against that authority and try to do things our way, trying to take power for ourselves.
That’s a concept we have a hard time with in the world today: Power vs. Authority. We tend to lump them all together and call them a necessary evil, or rebel against it in every form, but Scripture makes a clear distinction between the two and tells us outright that one is good, and the other is bad.
Authority is good. Authority is something that is given, it cannot be taken from another. It is intrusted to a person to exercise to the betterment of others. Jesus tells us about this at the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew when He says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) He also says elsewhere that He has given that authority to others for specific tasks: the government has the God given authority to govern and keep safe the people under their care; the Church has the authority to forgive sins and administer the sacraments; parents are given authority over their children; etc. Authority is a good, God given thing.
But all of the good things that God created have been corrupted by sin, and authority is no different. The sinful opposite of authority is Power. Power is not something that is given, but instead, it is something that is taken from someone else and then used to further the agenda of the one who wields it.
Bullying is a good example of someone taking power and lording it over someone else, and unfortunately, there are many examples of those in actual authority seizing power that isn’t theirs to wield and claiming that we have to obey them too. So where is the line drawn? And who draws it? God draws it, and the line is clear in His Word.
Authority is given – Power is taken. Authority is for the betterment of the community – Power is for the betterment of the individual wielding it. I could go on and on with examples, though I’m sure you can all find sufficient examples of your own without me spelling them out.
So, what does this have to do with the lessons? The Law is good because it has God’s authority. We, trying to supplant the Law with our own desires, trying to take power over them, is bad and a refusal of God’s will. That’s the long and the short of it. Where does that leave us?
That leaves us under authority –we are under the authority of the Gospel. While yes, we still need to follow the Law, we do so not because we are bound to it, but because we are free to do it for the benefit of others. The Law is now what it was always meant to be: directions on how to love your neighbour as yourself. Are we under other authority as well apart form the gospel? Yes, definitely! The government, our bosses, our pastors, our parents (to an extent, as most of you are fully grown who are reading this), but most importantly, we are under the direct authority of God from which all this other authority comes. We should always do God’s will before the will of anyone else. – We must obey God rather than men.
So, my fellow brothers and sister in Christ, we should rejoice in authority as it was created by God for our own good.
For more information on this concept of authority as good and God given, I encourage you to read your small catechisms, the back section, where they talk about the 4th commandment. That’s what that commandment is all about after all – Honour those who are in authority over you.
Anyways, that’s all for today. I wish you a blessed week, and a happy Canada Day tomorrow.
In Christ and His service,