Really you watch that show?
You actually voted for that person?
I didn’t even bother showing up, what difference would it make?
Choose your scenario, apply the question, and ask yourself: Are we living in a cynical age? Okay – perhaps that was rhetorical … do you actually trust anyone out there who holds a public role, politician or artist? Actor or social activist?
What do you mean by trust?
In whom do we have confidence?
Who are you willing to follow,
even if you are resistant?
Authority and Power: they’re funny words, often confused with one another, constantly used interchangeably and yet, as a people of faith, they are in fact quite different. The best way I can try to illustrate it is in this manner:
Power: Someone can tell you to do something and even though you do not want to do it, you still do! Often there is there is the underlying reality of force or coercion. What, in your life or experience, would fit this?
Authority: Someone who has influence in your life. Often grounded in words such as honour, integrity, respect, and for whom wisdom is attributed. Someone with authority can challenge you, push you, but ultimately you choose whether or not to follow any direction they might have to offer. Who in your own journey has displayed such qualities and influenced the path upon which you now find yourself?
I got to musing about this pair of words owing to recent developments here in Winnipeg. Politicians, who at one time held and campaigned on a particular platform (in this case no new taxes), have apparently changed their minds and wow are we getting taxes … As I discussed previously – A Deacon’s Musing: Taxes & the Social Good – I have no problem with taxation, as long as it serves its purpose: i.e. generally improve the environment in which human beings interact and live.
What has been interesting since my last musing about taxes, however, has been the general malaise that I have noticed. As opposed to the impassioned protest that Brandon experienced, Winnipeggers seem resigned. And, when there has been some trust earned, I have asked people who voted a certain way, why they are not concerned. Generally, the response has echoed the cynicism I mentioned above and a brooding distrust of those whom we have empowered to govern on our behalf in our democratic context …
And, of course, this has led me back to the ministry of Jesus … because regardless of what is happening in the secular world and our challenge to realise we may not be able to affect change there, in our faith contexts we get to do some musing. The first musing, for another time, is whether the worlds of the secular and faith are actually different? And, for this current exploration does Jesus have power?
He certainly displayed power, but at the end of the day, I believe his ministry was grounded in authority. He asked a lot of irritating questions, pushed people to wrestle with assumptions and look in the mirror about whether what they said actually met what they did. But – and with Jesus and the ministry we have inherited there is often a BUT – he never forced anyone to do anything, rather quite the opposite. He left men and women in the grayness of human choices on the precipice of awakening to the larger and fundamental questions of the Kingdom to Come and, well, he walked on …
So, Lent 2012 proceeds and the various award shows fill the air waves and sporting events move toward completion in trophies, accolades and REALLY loud arenas. I wonder, therefore, how willing we are to let Jesus’ authority, as lived out in the record we have of his ministry, lead us down paths we may be resistant to go, but do so nonetheless …