Yesterday, I read this phrase; “We live in the most authority averse culture in human history.” That means we resist or hate authority more than any other time in history. In my limited understanding of history, I think the author has a strong case. Humans have always struggled with someone in authority over them. This struggle grows when a tyrant or dictator rules over them. Yet, when a good king or queen came along, many loved it. They appreciated good governing.
Today, the attitude towards any authority goes from guarded suspicion to open rebellion and defiance. This applies to teachers, parents, police, government, bylaw enforcement, health officials, managers, owners, bosses, pastors, the church and ultimately God Himself. I would argue the greatest “authority” today is personal autonomy or self-rule. This caters to our natural tendencies. We don’t like any rule over us – including the speed limit sign on the side on the road!
But if we adopt this approach to life, how do we deal with Jesus as King over us?
Scripture clearly portrays Jesus as King. The prophets looked forward to the coming reign of a good king. Zechariah 9:9 – “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey.” Jesus fulfilled this prophecy when he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Jesus came from the lineage of King David – the royal line. Many called him Son of David.
Jesus affirmed His kingship in a conversation with Pilate. “Are you the King of the Jews,” Pilate asked? Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting that I might be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world.” John 18:33-37. During the last battle, the author of Revelation says this about Jesus. “On his robe and on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Revelation 19:16.
But we love personal autonomy. We can’t have it both ways. Either self is king or Jesus is king. So how can we fight this battle?
First, we must resist projecting our negative experiences with authority onto Jesus. An abusive parent, power hungry manager, lying politician or brutal teacher can certainly color our perspective on authority. Jesus is none of these. He loves, cares, sympathizes and sacrifices. He is wise, truthful, sovereign and powerful.
Second, we must confess our tendency to resist Jesus’ reign because we want supreme reign. The first humans showed the way to rebel against God and we’ve been following ever since.
Third, we must acknowledge Jesus’ good reign and our intention to live under it. We need to remind ourselves constantly to battle the self-rule that arises in our hearts.
Last, we need to ask Jesus’ help to change our hearts. He patiently works with us so that we see and experience the goodness of His reign.
“Thank you Lord Jesus for coming as the humble king. Forgive us for mixing our own stubbornness with negative experiences with authority to justify resisting your reign in our lives. We praise you Jesus, Our King!”