Authority: Inspiring or Abusive?

When we use our authority to push our own point of view and we are not willing to listen to others that it becomes a negative, abusive power.

 Acts 21.17-26

Reference: v.23a “…so do what we tell you.”

Explore: I’ve just been to a Forge conference where there have been many insightful and interesting speakers. However, there was not a session that was as quiet or where people were more engaged than when Alan Hirsch spoke. Alan is the founder of Forge and, with Michael Frost, is the mind behind the change of perspective this training group teaches. I’m sure he would probably hate to think that he is, but Alan Hirsch is revered as a spiritual guru in this place.

I’m guessing that as Paul went back to the places where he preached the message of Jesus and planted churches, he would be revered in the same way. And yet when he comes to Jerusalem he finds himself in a bit of a bind, where the new believers are hearing that he goes against what Moses (the forefather of their understanding of God) has taught. So James and the elders suggest Paul participates in a ritual to communicate to the people that he is not turning from the faith of Moses. Now I must confess that I didn’t know how this story ended and so I read to the end of the passage wondering whether Paul would be willing to fulfil their request.

Application: We are all in a place of authority. Whether it is over one person or hundreds of people. Authority gets a bit of a bad rap these days and is often used in a negative way, however it shows leadership and purpose. It’s when we use our authority to push our own point of view and we are not willing to listen to others that it becomes a negative, abusive power. How do we communicate our authority? Are we immovable? Or are we willing to take other people’s suggestions and be understanding of their situation?

Prayer: Lord, you have the utmost authority over the whole earth. May I hear your voice in the booming thunder as well as in the tweet of a small bird. Amen.

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This article was written by Linda Bailey

Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.

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