In my last post I asked whether it is possible to abuse power, strength, and freedom—but not authority.
The question sounds ridiculous to those who know the misuse of power and authority when they see it.
Yet, as our discussion showed, many of us know people who think they have the right to push others around even though those persons have never been given the right, the authorization, the sanction, or the approval to do so.
This even happens far too often in our own homes and churches in spite of the fact that, according to Jesus, in his kingdom power and authority are turned upside down. Those who are the greatest are to take the lowest rank, and the leader is to act like a servant” (Luke 22:26).
It’s because of that huge issue that I’m asking you to do something that might seem like splitting hairs. It may seem like a little point that ignores what we all know– that power and authority can be abused. But in my mind, there is still a fine distinction that has thunderous implications.
One or more of Jesus people may have the strength, power, and freedom to act in a controlling, abusive manner for their own ends. They may think because of their organizational office or head of family position that they have the God-given right to control and abuse those under their grip. But that is an abuse of power. We may call it an abuse of human authority. And I understand along with you why we do so. (But where are the human decisions that sanction such control and abuse).
So at this point—it still seems to me as if the God-given authority we all have is to use whatever gift we have been given for the honor of Christ and the good of one another.
I think that’s what the Apostle Peter asked of the church. Before urging fellow elders of the church to be examples without lording it over the flock (1Peter 5:2-3) he wrote, “God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you. Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ. All glory and power belong to him forever and ever. Amen. (1Peter 4:10-11).