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Monday, February 12, 2007

Blessed unclarity?

I am still acclimated to having diminished hearing. Sometimes I still find, especially in bad acoustic situations, that I just can't hear properly at all. Other times things come out garbled or I mishear what people say. Sometimes this mishearing can be funny, and every once in a while thought-provoking.

Today I thought I heard the person leading the prayers of the people pray 'for those in authority under us'. I thought I was sure I misheard (and, asking later, this was verified), but what a neat image. We're so used to authority being 'over' us, as if to keep us down, or keep us in line, put us in our place. What if authority is something 'under' us, to support us, uphold us, lift us? This would be a way of construing what true authority is in the church: service. And the greatest will be called servant of all. This is a service and authority which elevates people and makes possible the fullness which God intends for us, an authority authorised by the very flourishing it gives rise to.

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4 Comments:

Blogger PdB said...

Jason, you usually do make me think for longer than 3 seconds, and I think you already know that. I just don't want to tire us both by taking 30 minutes to articulate the points in which I have reason to disagree! ;D I hope I haven't already done so... But briefly: I'm not just a reader; I'm a friend!

You make an interesting point today, and I appreciate the anecdote of how you came to ponder it. I'm sorry about your hearing, though; I didn't realize it was such a challenge.

I think, however, that 'authority' isn't the word you want to use to communicate the essence of what you're saying. Authority, by definition, embodies power and responsibility.

It's telling that our modern regard of authority betrays a heart of rebellion on our part and a sense of entitlement to abuse on the part of those with authority. Those who are endowed with authority have the obligation to serve the needs of those supporting and upholding them, for with authority comes responsibility: those in authority will be called to account for those who have been entrusted to them.

The very structure of authority was ordained by God from the beginning of time and was affirmed by Jesus and through the apostles by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. While the Shepherd will lay down his life to save the sheep, it's always clear Who is in authority.

My own concern would be to communicate that submitting to Him (and whomever else He has placed in authority over us) does not demean us, despite our prideful objections. But I think the essence of your conclusion is right. It's just that I'm like you in that after the service you verified what you heard: I prefer to seek clarity.

Monday, February 12, 2007 5:58:00 AM  
Blogger ::aaron g:: said...

interesting...I'll have to use this when I lead prayers this Sunday.

Monday, February 12, 2007 6:36:00 AM  
Blogger bryan said...

I had never thought about it that way. Definitely something to think about today. Something to add to that. On a daily basis to we do things for those in authority to make it easier for them to support us? Or do we push back against them to make it more difficult?

Monday, February 12, 2007 2:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Wow, hi everyone!
Briefly:
Pamela,
Yes, certainly, as friend -- and I'm having some misgivings in general about using the term 'readers', but there you have it. And I try to repay the compliment of not taking 30 minutes -- or longer! -- to articulate my disagreements with you! ;o) (Also, I hope the '3 seconds' riposte of mine was received in the good humour I intended it.) About my ear: I guess I haven't said alot, but my diminished hearing (and accompanying tinnitus) is due to a serious middle ear infection I contracted last February. Quite awful, but I'm getting by better than I thought I would. Since I promised brevity, I shall dash on...

Aaron,
If you actually do that, I'd be interested in any feedback you receive...

and Byron,
Thanks for this. I think you're right. Part of what this image of 'in authority under us' is doing, I think, is putting authority in a right relationship with 'the governed' (or choose a better term). Your point emphasises the other side of that, if you will, of how do 'the governed' support those in authority (under us), so that they themselves can flourish -- as humans and authorities. So we have then not a dynamic of transgression and punishment (say), but one of mutual support and encouragement leading to flourishing of the whole.

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Monday, February 12, 2007 9:38:00 PM  

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