[So instead of waffling around saying “I don’t know what to write” I am going to attempt to put down my processings on a pixel-crammed computer screen for all of you to see. Precisely what you’ll get from my testimony, I don’t know. But God knows I have to write this for my own good.]
For the longest time I have thought that Jesus simply had authority because He was Jesus. That was that. Nothing I could do about it, and there was no way I could emulate it. He was leader and I was follower. Which did not worry me anyway. Authority often carries a connotation of hardship, discipline, arguments, and royalty– none of which I really understood. Fame was another thing I hated the thought of– paparazzi cameras in your face? Persecution for the truth? No thank you. I was quite happy to stay in the “I will follow the Lion” mindset– clueless to the fact that God wants to be a Lion through me.
Fast-forward to a school (well, university) assignment a couple months ago entitled “Jesus the Master Teacher”. We had to investigate three of Pazmiño’s principles regarding to the uniqueness and quality of Jesus’ education style. The first one I decided to focus on was Jesus’ teaching was authoritative. The brilliant reason I picked this was that I thought (well I still do) needed help with conflict-resolution and having a more demanding presence when I taught children. Exert more discipline! And Jesus was going to show me, the classic peace-maker, how to do it. Hah. He’s pretty funny like that. When you think you have Him worked out, He totally blows your brains out. Well, excuse the bad metaphor. Let’s keep going.
Of course amidst my last-minute splashes of watercolour, research references, and buying Kindle books to read at last moment because the library was closed (naturally) on Sunday and the project was due on Monday… well, one moment. I thought I understood “Jesus’ teaching was authoritative”. Hold the phone, as Shrek would say. Jesus taught with God’s authority? Not as the scribes? How did the scribes teach, anyway? What would His perfect teaching style look like in my own life? In leadership, I thought I was supposed to constantly listening to others, not “imposing” my own beliefs on them. Turns out it was a bad cover-up for not believing that what I wanted to say was really from God. And that is horrible.
Unbelief is something that we hardly ever talk about. Of course, when I was attending Circuit Riders (a 2-week course on how to teach the simple gospel and mainly just love Jesus) for three days, they slapped unbelief straight on the face. But before then? Nope. At least I could not recognize it on myself, even if I knew it was so bad. However, it was there, lurking over the rays of my countenance, telling me that God could not speak to me and trying to silence me from speaking the truth He spoke in abundance to me every day.
I HAVE conversations with God every morning. I really do. And it never occurred to me that communication with God could result in God’s authority. My experiences in leadership, my life, my quiet times with Jesus every morning… oh could I really have a voice to speak to people who did not know me? Because that’s where the problem had come in. Sure, at Makua Lani, my old high school, my confidence was pretty up there– I could speak out with authority! I was the oldest, in my hometown, people knew me and loved me and I had my normal support network even if everything else failed at school leadership. You can shout from the hilltops at the top of your voice that JESUS WANTS YOU TO PUT THE FIRST COMMANDMENT FIRST!!! But what about here, in a totally new environment?
Imagine pristine green hills lovingly reminiscent of Hobbiton, but then imagine you are alone. Not with your normal friends that understand that you are Hawaiian but not-quite-Hawaiian. That understand you are not crazy for speaking in tongues or spending an hour and a half every morning with Jesus. Overseas readers, it’s not that anyone thinks I’m crazy here. But… have I ever given my peers the chance to even contemplate it? Because when we’re following a Lion we don’t tend to look so human anymore. Well, in metaphorical terms, anyway!
“[Jesus’] authority was authenticated by the content of His teaching and who He was as a person.” (Pazmiño, 2001). That means I don’t just go AWOL, or run around screaming everything I ever learned from Jesus to everyone. It means that… when I know something to be true, and when I’m given the platform to share that, I SHOULD NOT SHRINK BACK. I am a cherished daughter of the King and I have sat at the foot of His throne and listened to Him talk. Oh, how much I have to learn! But how much I know. Humility hand in hand with authority. Only Jesus knows the perfect balance.
You can go back to those hills again. Soft, downy green grass beneath your feet with the Lord of the Rings theme song playing softly in the background. Now imagine Jesus standing next to you. Girls, oh so close, caressing your face; guys, giving you a bro-hug. Well, He can caress your face, too. The point is, He is with you there. Can you see Him for this moment? Now imagine what you want to say, your testimony, your freedom…. yelling it out to the mountaintops…
Isn’t it much easier with Him at your side? Because He’s the one constant amidst this chaotic globe, and He wants you to know He loves you. He loves you enough to give you a voice. To speak. To love. To grow. And I’ll fall plenty of times and you will, too, but it won’t matter so much anymore when we realize Jesus wants to brush us off and pick us up again. He did that for me. In coming here, away from everything else, I have found Him. As Leslie Ludy wrote, “Sometimes I think that God gives us these opportunities to lean fully upon Him in order to remind us that, truly, we can do nothing in our own strength!” Amen. To end?
“When everything else is fading away… only Love remains.”
It’s His authority. No one elses. Let’s not waste it.
Jesus had authority on earth because He was Jesus. Yet more importantly, He spoke with words of command which overflowed out of relationship with His Father. Sweet beans. That’s beautiful authority. Whoops, not the sweet beans but the relationship– hence,
That’s about it, lovely ones. You should love Him. As should I.
Photo credit: taken by the lovely Michaela Whelan