Here at the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we find that wise men still seek God, still desire to know Him better, and still go to His Word with their questions. Martin Luther certainly asked questions as to why the existing ecclesiastical power structure operated they way they did. Here is a question that is even more basic: Did Jesus delegate any of His authority to men at all? …
If Jesus delegated authority – if He gave command decision-making power to men on earth – that is very dis-empowering for those not so blessed with that authority. And if He did so, His written record, His Word, would be very explicit and clear about it. If He did so, obviously some men would always strive to be in those positions of authority. And if it’s up to men to effectuate the choice of themselves to be in that position of rulership, then the requirements – the application process – would also be very clear in Scripture, so that we could know what to do and how to apply for that position.
If on the other hand there’s nothing we can do – we’re simply chosen by God and we’re to know that by some means – that (how to know that God has chosen us for a particular leadership role) should also be clear in Scripture.
None of that is true, however. None of that is clear in Scripture, though men who find themselves in positions of human authority have interpreted Scripture to say that, and they have, by tradition, established a framework of rules whereby the leadership gets selected. But even there, men have differed inside the construct of that choice structure. Men have differed about the qualifications and the requirements and the application of the choice process.
But what if God’s desire is for all of us to be in a rulership position or for all of us to have access to a rulership position? What if God’s desire is for each of us to rule in his own kingdom, in his own sphere – to brighten the corner where we are, as the song says? What if God’s structure does not involve a hierarchy, a pecking order, from Himself down to the least of these (which hierarchy, by the way, would also be clearly delineated in Scripture, if that was God’s desire and intent and design, and not just invented and written down by the existing leadership structure, picking and choosing passages of scripture and interpreting them as it wills, in order to justify its assumption of authority)?
What if God’s intent starts with the individual and goes to the basic building block of society – the family: husband, wife and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren? What if it involves men stepping into that responsibility in their own individual lives and in their family lives and learning and practicing and living by wisdom such that other men recognize their wisdom and their leadership and come to them for wisdom and for decisions and, thus, these men – these elders, as they become older – are given the respect that the authority in which they live naturally earns as they live in the wisdom of God and think God’s wise thoughts and make wise decisions, and others in the community look to them for the leadership that their wisdom naturally evokes?
It’s not a self-selection process in that somebody doesn’t just jump up one day and say, “I want to be the leader; I want to be the one in prominence. Y’all listen to me!” (In other words, it’s not at all like modern American politics.) Nor is it a selection process whereby a group of men choose somebody and give him a title and the very title itself carries authority, regardless of the man who holds the office that the title represents. (Like the United States Senate before the 17th Amendment.) It’s simply a matter of the wisdom that resides in that individual, in that man or woman, as the case may be – the wisdom inside that believer being so apparent that others recognize it and come there seeking that wisdom.
We could spend a lot of energy fighting against the false. At the start, it may be necessary to at least point out the falsity of the false, because some people lock themselves up in their closets, believing that, because they are not now in the hierarchy – the authority structure of the presumed authority entity – or because they’re not in favor, they’re not the chosen, or they’re too small to be considered – that there’s little that they can do, and so they live lives of quiet oblivion. Yes, to some extent we must point out the falseness of that counterfeit authority structure such that people don’t tie themselves to it.
But then the focus really needs to be on the positive: What does God really have for you? How can you step into the strength and the power of what He has gifted you to do? Regardless of what goes on around you, how can you be faithful to what God has given you to do? How can you fulfill those righteous desires that are in your heart that God put there without stepping on somebody else’s territory or without violating some authority protocol or something? How can you focus on the positive and step into the fullness of what God has for you? That’s a positive message. The only ones who would regard it as negative are those who are trying to hang onto the power or the comfort of the authority structure that’s built up around themselves, which is cementing their power and giving them a false sense of security and safety because of the structure in which they live, and which they believe has authority, not realizing (or admitting) that it has authority only because those who are under that authority have, consciously or unconsciously, ceded that authority to them.