Mel Lawrenz is Teaching Pastor at Elmbrook Church. His most recent book is about dealing with loss, A Chronicle of Grief: Finding Life After Traumatic Loss.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20
The issue of authority always comes back to the matter of “who” rather than “what.” Who is this oncologist I’m going to see? Who is this political pundit offering a comprehensive analysis of conflicts in the Middle East? Who is this person who I am speaking to for financial advice?
Do you remember when you were a kid and someone told you something you resisted or doubted? How often we would reply, “Says who?” And we especially said, “Says who?” when it was someone asserting some kind of authority over us.
It always comes back to the same place: “Who?” Almost anybody can be right once in a while, which is why the search for truth isn’t based on a what. As someone once said, even a broken clock is correct twice a day.
But if you find the right “who,” the person who is right not just by accident or by passing fair judgment, but because truth is at the core of that person’s being, then you’ve found proper authority in life.
This is why we must be absolutely clear about the authority of Jesus Christ. Before he ascended to heaven he told his disciples that all authority in heaven and earth belonged to him. What that means for us is that, if we cling to his every word, recorded for us in the four gospels, we can have absolute confidence.
Now here is the best part about acknowledging God as the absolute authority over all matters of truth: God pulls all the pieces of belief together. The reality of God, of the human race, of the natural world, of good and evil, of purpose, all fits together into a house you can live in. If you pick up a book about French or about maintaining your car or about building an airplane, you assume page 12 will not contradict page 98. One part of the book will not deny what another part has asserted. If there is one author, with one intent and consistent knowledge, then the body of information he offers is a harmonious whole.
Christianity does not offer bits and scraps of disconnected truths or mere sentiments. If one thing is true—really, unalterably true—then it fits with all the other truths we pick up as pieces along the way, and an amazing picture emerges. And this knowledge does not contradict scientific knowledge. A good astrophysicist and a good theologian are really doing the same thing: passionately seeking to discover the way things really are. What they pick up along the way may seem sometimes to pull in different directions, but ultimately what is true is true. And it all fits.
Lord, help me to trust that what you say is absolutely true. Allow me to have an experience with your words in Scripture that instructs, informs, inspires, and guides me. May your word be a bright light shining on my path. And when I, in my stubborn way, think that I know better than you, please guide me back to the safe harbor of your truth.
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