Because I said so!!

Authority. Our entire world systems are based on it. Traditionally, the ultimate authority is that of God, which He then “delegates” to “lesser” powers: Jesus, the Spirit, the Bible, Christian leaders, government leaders, parents, etc. We teach that all authority is “granted” by God. Scripture in several places clearly posits this particular view of the world. Basically, we obey because of those in authority over us. To put it rather simplistically, we obey those in authority BECAUSE they are in authority, and will punish us in some manner if we don’t. The phrase, “Because I said so!” is not too far from the way we have defined reality in regards to authority. However, I have come to believe this way of relating to the world is not of God.

Jesus is said to be the EXACT representation of God, and he ESCHEWED any claim on authority, and became the ultimate SERVANT, both in life, and ultimately, in His death. Yes, He was GIVEN authority by the Father and of course, we GIVE Him Lordship in our lives. But it was not His desire to “rule” over us. In fact, He resisted that earthly idea at every turn. I believe He was showing us the TRUE heart of the Father.

God does not wish to relate to us as an authority-OVER us with a “rulebook” of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and doctrinal beliefs. Yes, He wants what’s best for us (He is FOR us) and sinful behaviors result in things that are NOT good for us or for mankind. So His desire is for us to abstain from sin by learning to love for our OWN sakes, not for HIS, for His “pleasure” or out of a need for us to “obey” HIM. Rather than authority, He chooses to relate to us as a servant-UNDER us, lifting us up from whatever moral plane we may currently be at to ever higher ideals of love for each other. It is His mercy, forgiveness and love that COMPELS us to put our trust in Him, which in practice equates to making Him Lord (authority) in our lives. But it’s something we GIVE based on our love of His “servanthood” towards us, not something we SUBMIT to because God has the largest stick (Hell) to punish us with someday.

When we become aware of this principal, we realize all the authority structures of MAN no longer really applies to us. Does that mean we can now sin all the time? No. We have NO desire to sin, because love reigns in our hearts. Sure, we still mess up. We are human, and know not what we do. But God does not count this against us. Our HEART is still ruled by love, not by our desire to “get away with things” like a child sneaking around behind their parent’s back. It’s a more “grown up” way of relating to God that doesn’t require Him to be a disciplinary figure anymore, but a friend and confidant that knows us inside and out and still accepts and loves us, warts, failures, struggles and all.

But let’s get back to authority. I believe all authority structures (governmental and religious) are made by MAN who then CLAIMS the authority of God as their reason for having the “right” to rule in our lives. The same with the Bible (scripture). Man proclaims it’s authority and says it’s from God.

But let’s look at what Jesus said was our authority. He told us that we would have no need of MAN to teach us. He said that we should do the bear minimum to keep the government off our backs (‘render to Caesar…’ — basically, not to tick them off on purpose). He told us the purpose of scripture was to point to HIM, not to be a rulebook reigning over us, like the Jews were using it. Paul reiterated this idea. And then He told us the Spirit (His “proxy” on earth) would be our teacher and lead us into all truth. When we become aware of the Spirit working in our lives, we surrender to His desire to serve us (teaching us is a service) and MAKE Him our authority. But the Spirit never DEMANDS to be heard or obeyed. The Spirit is the ONLY thing that Jesus intimated would be an authority in our lives. Not men, not scripture, not even HIMSELF really (and therefore, as revealed, not God, either.).

I know it seems like a backwards way of looking at the world, but I think this is a FUNDAMENTAL piece of theology that the church has LOST or never fully understood that changes our ENTIRE view of LIFE and relating to God and others. We no longer acknowledge any man’s authority over us (though we still may choose to obey in the interests of peace-keeping), or exercise authority over others, but only claim servanthood to mankind, just as Jesus showed us by example. Therefore, we have no place to tell people how to behave (while still striving to prevent harm and promote love) or even really what to believe (unless they ask to know). We are living epistles that when asked should be able give a reason for the hope within us (that hope is the attractive quality that the world just doesn’t have). We are the SERVANTS of the world, just as God is OUR servant, dying at our hands so that we could understand His true character and disposition towards us.

This Facebook post by Jacob Wright describes how this “upside down” authority structure is described in the apocryphal book of Revelation. This is the way that Jesus wins back the world — through servanthood, not authority.

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A Letter From a Backsliding, Prodigal Heretic, To My Christian Friends Still on the Inside


Borrowing this letter from my fellow blogger. It expresses very well my own feelings…

To My Dear Christian Friends on the Inside*,

I know that you love me.

I know that because you love me you’re worried about me right now.

I know that you feel that I’ve been led astray down the rebellious path of the prodigal, that I’ve somehow been deceived into darkness and you are gravely concerned for the eternal destination of my soul.

I know you believe that I am currently quite lost and you’re praying tirelessly for me to find my way back before it’s too late.

I know this because when I believed what you believe, I feared the same things about people like me.

I remember looking at those who stand where I now stand and feeling what I believed was a holy compassion for them. I remember well, wanting with great urgency to save them from the destruction they were choosing.

I realize now how arrogant it was for me to assume that because they’d reached different conclusions than I had, that their faith journey was any less valid, and less life-giving, any less true, that God was any less present.

That’s why I’m writing you today: to thank you for worrying about me, for praying for me, and for loving me.

And because I love you, I want to share with you what it’s really like here on the outside, because back then I couldn’t have known and I wish I had. It would have changed my prayers and my words and my very heart toward those who were in this same place.

Here on the outside, yes the answers are less clear than they were inside, but there is great wonder in the search. It is the unpredictable journey of an expectant child exploring a new patch of untouched forest. The path now wildly meanders into places I was told never to go when I was comfortably inside; to new understandings of the Bible, to ancient spiritual practices and different faith traditions, into Science and Philosophy and Art. And the most glorious discovery is finding out that everywhere we plant our feet, God is there waiting. This great big God is indeed far too big to be relegated only to the inside.

Here on the outside Certainty isn’t as treasured as Authenticity. The questions are not character flaws, the doubts not deficiencies, the vacillations not moral failings. They are all the symptoms of a humble heart which realizes the search itself is a sacred thing; that when Jesus tells us to “ask and seek and knock”, he is inviting us beyond the confines of whatever container we might previously have fashioned for God. Once we began to step outside of that constrictive space, we found ourselves moving into the wide expanse of a life fully saturated with Divinity—and we could breathe there.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the outside is that it is a dark place; that there is a coldness and heaviness and sadness here. I used to believe that when I was on the inside, but in truth it was more wishful thinking. I needed to believe that because it helped reinforce my story that I was one of the few enlightened and they among the masses lost in shadow. It made it far easier to assume a posture of moral superiority that way and to subjugate my own nagging soul questions. All I can tell you is that there is brilliant light here. There is laughter and discovery and warmth and community and goodness and grace—and God.

When I was on the inside I remember how important labels were for those who were different. They helped quickly and easily delineate the saved from the sinners, the lost from the found, the righteous from the wicked. These words formed the very clear wall between insiders and outsiders; the wall I fortified and defended.

When people stepped beyond whatever I saw as the inside, I labeled them:

Heretics.
Backsliders.
Prodigals.
False Prophets.
Lost sheep.
Deceived.
Rebels.
Sinners.

So trust me when I tell you I understand why you use these words for me now. I know they give you some comfort and offer some sense of control, so I don’t take offense at them and I don’t have malice toward you for using them.

I can only tell you that these words do not define me.
They do not stick to me.
They are not labels deserving of me or my journey, or any of those out here with me who are seeking and searching with as much care and integrity and diligence and faith as you are there.

I realize it is likely that these words will matter very little to you. I suspect they will not change your mind about my eternal destination or my moral condition or the legitimacy of my current conclusions. I know that you may not be willing or able to see that we are actually on the same beautiful road, just in different places.

I am still a Christian and still the Church and still beloved by God, and I rest in those truths as I continue to navigate the journey even when other things seem less clear. I am confident that unorthodox is not ungodly. 

I know you will probably continue to worry about me and pray for me, and in your way love me—and I am grateful.

And I will love you, by remembering what it was like to be on the inside; to see your heart even in the times your words or your silence damage me.

I will that pray you find compassion and mercy for those who do not believe exactly as you believe, and that you come to trust that God is large enough to speak to both of us simultaneously; whether on the inside or the outside.

Most of all I pray that we will both see this God fully from where we currently stand; wild, untamable, uncontainable, and remember that in this shared orientation toward Love—we are the same.

Peace and Love,

A Backsliding, Prodigal, Heretic, Chasing God Here on the Outside

 

 

 

*The Inside, may be Christian orthodoxy or rigid tradition or any place where one has determined they have all the answers to the deepest questions of this life; where or when they view those outside of that place as morally inferior or as less intelligent, sincere, or faithful.

Source: A Letter From a Backsliding, Prodigal Heretic, To My Christian Friends Still on the Inside