If we are honest with ourselves, most of us probably have a little trouble with authority. The truth is that we have a tendency to resent it. We’re an independent lot and we don’t like somebody telling us what to do. We like to be in charge and, quite frankly, we like to think that we know more and better than the other guy.
Resentment of authority can affect all sorts of areas in our lives. Take home life. One reason teenagers sometimes have trouble living by the standards of the household is that they don’t want to acknowledge the authority their parents have just because they are parents. The New Testament instructs wives to be submissive to their husbands, and husbands to be submissive to their wives. Why do we sometimes have trouble with this concept of submission? Part of it is that we don’t want to acknowledge the other person’s authority.
Resentment of authority can land us in trouble with the law, too. It may be a relatively subtle thing, such as grumbling about the speed limit or some other traffic regulation which cramps our style. Then, if we decide the regulation doesn’t apply to us, we increase the amount of our ticket by venting on the policeman who pulled us over. A lot of us find ourselves muttering under our breath at tax time, as well.
Resentment of authority can also make life miserable at work, both for us and the boss. In extreme cases it can lead to losing a job.
Most importantly, resentment of authority has a spiritual impact. You’ve all heard of the Great Commission. That’s the name we give to Jesus’ command to his disciples to preach the gospel throughout the world. It is interesting to me that Jesus bases his command on his authority. He said, “All authority… has been given to me. Therefore go…” (Matthew 28:18-19 NIV) If we resent authority, we may do what Jesus said, but we won’t be happy while we’re doing it.
But there is something which can make all the difference in the world. It’s that little, four-letter word called love. When we really love someone we are willing to cheerfully do all kinds of things for them that we would otherwise resent. The next time we find ourselves resenting what our parents, our spouse or our boss asks us to do, it would be good for us ask whether we love them as we should.
This is especially true in regard to Jesus. If we resent doing what he’s told us to do, we need to take another look at our love. We have no reason to resent him. In fact, quite the opposite. The Apostle John reminds us, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV) Every time we find ourselves resenting something Jesus has told us to do, we need to remember that he loves us. With him love is not just a word, he showed his love for us by giving us his life. Is it asking too much to love him back? In view of what he’s done, is cheerful obedience too much to ask in return? Jesus told his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:13-14 NIV)
Each week we participate in a memorial to remind us of Jesus’ love. We eat a small piece of bread which reminds us of his body which he sacrificed for us. We drink a cup of grape-juice which reminds us that it is Jesus’ blood which cleanses us from our sins. As we remember Jesus’ love for us, let’s ask ourselves how much we love him in return. Let’s place ourselves under his authority once again.