Power Doesn’t Mean Authority

Christ is risen!

Most people confuse power and authority. They think power IS authority but they are mistaken. In fact, I’d say the modern obsession with power is precisely because we have lost the ability to appreciate real authority. Just look at any community in the aftermath of some event that turns that community upside down. Riots break out and people demand that the authorities fix the problem by looting and destroying property, and those in authority demand these same people “obey” the law and stop their destruction. Both sides look across at each other and see “the enemy!” And both sides are suffering from a warped view of the world!

And real authority flows from service, not power. Real authority is based on love, not force. Real authority is always given, NEVER demanded. Real authority is like respect; if you have to demand it, you don’t deserve it!

So, where did we humans get this wrong? Why do we have so much trouble with authority and power? Well, the answers are many, but they all boil down to fear and pride. And these twin illnesses feed each other. By the way, they aren’t illnesses because they are inherently bad. No, we should fear God and we should have pride in His love and beauty. But because we center our fear and pride in ourselves, we see this warped focus confuse the whole world!

Look at our Gospel Lesson in Luke 9:1-6:

At that time, Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Notice the Lord gave the disciples “power AND authority;” power to heal and authority to preach. But both of these realities were GIVEN by Him Who is the author of both. Jesus shares His power and authority with His disciples. They aren’t acting on their own. They are expressing the gift given them, so they have no room for pride in themselves since what they are sharing is a GIFT! And look what they accomplish. They heal as Jesus healed. They preach the message that Jesus declares. They become by grace an extension of Him in the places they go! They carry no provisions with them so that it is clear to themselves AND those around them that they are trusting Another for their needs, not depending on themselves. They even release any claim on demands of respect and power by not staying where they aren’t welcome!

So, from our Gospel Lesson today we learn valuable lessons concerning power and authority. We learn that the New Community Christ establishes is based on power to do good, to heal broken lives, to share that power for good. By the way, there is not power to do evil. To do evil is to become a slave and that isn’t power; it’s poverty. And the authority in this New Community is based on service, not force or even demands! This authority flows through the servant from the Master Who IS the ONLY authority in the Body of Christ.

Today, do you experience power and authority like this? The truth is the same Lord that commissioned His disciples is the same Lord you and I serve today. The same Spirit that was given to the disciples is also shared with you and me by virtue of our common chrismation in His Church. Nothing has changed since the days of the disciples. The world is still filled with hurting, broken people who need healing. The world is still filled with confused people longing to find someone they can trust to lead them. Guess who is called to be that healer and that leader for these precious people? That’s right! The Royal Priesthood of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. The ones who have the courage to be Orthodox on Purpose!

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