The Paper March 2013
Easter 2013 - Authority and Power
Ever thought about the little traffic light on the corner? It sits there changing colour from red to green, then back through yellow to red again. But everyone (well almost!) obeys it. The light has no power to stop motorists or pedestrians, but it does! How does it do it? It has authority. It says “Stop”, and we do. The authority of the light is backed up by the power of the force of the law. Disobey it and get caught, you get a fine, and if you don’t pay that see what happens next time you try to renew your licence! On the other hand someone can place a bollard across the road, and people will be sure to stop. The bollard has “power” to make people “stop”. It has power, whether it is put there with authority or not.
So what is the relationship between authority and power? Authority is derived from legitimate power. Often we may not want to surrender to the authority, and sometimes we may get away with flouting it and going against its direction, but generally there is good reason for the authority invested in situations, and it is backed up by whatever power may be required to make it effective.
In our own lives we often have places where we know we should not go - things we should not do. We have stop signs through the authority of our minds that say we should or should not do certain things, but sometimes we “run the red light” and still do them! These events often end up having a negative impact either on our bodies (for example if we overindulge in certain activities) or on our mind through increased anxiety and the lowering of our self-esteem, or in effecting our relationships with other people. Sometimes we need to use a “physical” barrier to prevent ourselves doing silly things, but generally it is accepted that adults are “strong enough” to let their minds rule their lives – that our self-control will obey those red lights when they appear in our minds. But do we obey them!
The principle that we all effect acceptable self-control is good in theory, but unfortunately many of us (there may be some perfect people who are exceptions to this) have a continual conflict between what we know we ought to do (indicated by the red light saying don’t do it) and what we actually want to do, and in practice often do do.
In Christian theology we call this sin. There is an ideal life-pattern we would like to follow, and which we know deep down is best, but in practice we often do other things. This is not a new problem, and the Apostle Paul wrote in the Bible some two thousand years ago, “the good that I would I do not, and that which I would not, that I do....” (Romans chapter 7 verses 18 to 25) Our mind has the authority to control what we do, but in practice often does not have the power to overcome our flesh and stop us doing it. As Christians we seek to God for power to act in accordance with the authority of our mind when it tells us to do what we know is right. The Bible speaks of three components of our being – a spirit a soul and a body. The spirit knows what is right and presents a red (or green or amber) light to the soul (our conscious mind) which is either obeyed by the flesh (the body), or we run the light and do not do what we know is really right!
There is a need, however, to recognise an absolute standard to know what is right (the green light) and what is wrong (the red light). Most Religions have a general agreement on what life principles are right and what are wrong. Christianity, however, goes one step further and believes that there will be a day of accountability when each will need to answer for things done in this life. Christians also believe that Jesus Christ has paved a way for us to be reconciled to God, the Creator, through the sacrifice of His perfect life when He was here on the Earth some two thousand years ago. It was through His death and resurrection on that first Easter that He gained authority over sin and death. However it will not be until He returns again that He will exercise His Power to enforce His Authority, and all will obey Him. This is the great message of Easter.
We would like to invite you to visit us, or a Church in your local Community, to talk about the traffic lights in your life, and to explain how the events of that first Easter all that time ago are still relevant to us today, and through the Power that Jesus Christ has, He can established authority over our lives today. See Church Notices in this Paper for times of Meetings at the Christian Israelite Church at 196 Campbell Street – we have been there since 1853 - 160 years.
Rodney Gray – Pastor Christian Israelite Church, 196 Campbell Street, Sydney (www.cichurch.com) .