September 26

Matthew 21:23-27

“When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’” vs. 23

The question of authority was important for the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Authority was what legitimized a person’s words and actions, it was what ordered the hierarchy and established a chain of command. In their eyes if Jesus lacked proper authority for the things he was doing, he was violating sacred boundaries and should be disregarded. The Church has long struggled with that same issue. We’re very particular about credentials when it comes to congregational practices. Unless a person has been properly authorized we are reluctant to allow them to officiate at our rituals or to preach from our pulpits. We are not to cross certain sacred boundaries without having a stamp of approval from our particular denominational hierarchy. Now to some extent this is understandable–proper order and proper credentials are important to our life together. But sometimes we forget that this is all human convention, and has virtually nothing to do with how the Spirit of God operates. As the gospel of John puts it, “The Spirit blows where it wills…and you do not know where it is going or where it is coming from.” Rather than doggedly following our time-worn practices, as followers of Jesus we should always stand ready to be surprised by God.

Thought for the Day: What are the signs of true spiritual authority?

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