The Training Table: Why Anti-Authoritarism… RULES!
Welcome to the Training Table where you can depend on some spiritually-nourishing chow, carefully prepared, to help you run the Godly and good race! For what good is a good race, unless it’s a Godly race? (2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Galatians 5:7)
Life is complicated… Way complicated. So any human being who [really] cares about bringing to bear solutions to problems of any depth, satisfaction, or longevity CANNOT be satisfied by bypassing reality, over-simplifying the problems, or reducing the solutions to a couple of “just do this… or just do that”. This is foolish, lazy, naive, dishonest, power-grabbing, and always, always, always more harmful than more helpful in the end.
Well known and blindingly simplistic panacea’s akin to, “Education is the key!” “Emancipation first and last!” “Equality above all!” “Ecology or die!” “Seeker-friendly is the way to go!” “Leadership is all we need!” “Liberty is Lord!” “Watch the Dow ’till life is done!” “Racism is the answer to all our woes!” “Democracy is the answer!” “It’s all about grace!” “Fitness is king!” “The family nucleus is all that matters!”
You name it… Overly simplistic and reductionistic… One and ALL.
Human beings are made up of wide and deep spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical realms. Truly God-honoring, people-blessing, holistic, truthful, and loving solutions to ALL problems take into account ALL realms of our humanity. Being simplistic and/or reductionistic suppresses the truth and only serves to get us off the hook and hard work of facing reality, actually thinking in non-contradictory and logical terms, respectfully struggling together, and communicating at a far, far deeper level.
Why Anti-Authoritarism RULES! And how we can get back home…
CONTEXT/MACRO-VIEW: Try and begin at 30,000’
Beginning with Eve and Adam’s answer in the negative to the serpent’s leading, parsing, and deceptive question, “Did God really say…?”… First Eve’s answer of “NO!”… and then Adam’s silence to “complete the loop” of, “Well, maybe God isn’t completely in charge of all this, right?!”
Thus began FallenMan’s “YES!” to autonomy from God and the origin of the “second oldest religion” in the form of humanism: Man’s only authority begins and ends in himself! The enmity between us and God is Humankind raising a fist at God while saying, “I am the final authority of and in my life… Thank you very much!”
The “Spiritual-Sin DNA” of Adam and Eve was inherited by all mankind. The paradigm of exactly who IS the final authority on any issue was flipped on its head at this time. “Did God really say?” was firmly legitimatized and left room for us to question God’s authority on E-V-E-R-Y THING. But… There’s another high-level step down: The cascade of our cultural calamity.
As we have chewed on the Training Table many times before, one way to help mark the characteristics of this post-modern world we live in today [that we’ve seen repeated through out history—see Jeremiah 2] is to lay out three main principles and practices:
The plights of “post-modernism of every era” fit nicely into three categories: Rampant Secularization [no God, no shame]; Rampant Pluralization [no True Truth, relativism]; and Rampant Privatization [what we do in our private life has no bearing on our public life].
All three of these have separate yet over-lapping realms and consequences, but common to all of them is this: We have cut ourselves off from God… Real Love and True Truth… and we hate authority… figures, institutions, structures, policies… ANYTHING that threatens to take away our inherited Sin nature of autonomy (Genesis 3) and sinful desires (Romans 1:18-32) to be the god and authority of and over our own life… is legitimately suspect.
Life at Ground Zero…
But… there is another “low-level yet highly influential” perspective we have to deal with: Within the brokenness of God’s “Petri dish” of propagating His consummate creation, the union of one man and one woman and their offspring as FAMILY, the “authority figure, father-mother wound” is now, sadly, a ubiquitous heart condition replete with disastrous effects:
With so many people having been betrayed and wounded by who God put in place to be the teacher-shaper of His Love and Truth Authority in the institution of the family, the emotional ambivalence and avoidance and distrust and suspicion and down-right disdain for authority in the heart of so, so many… dare I say most… RULES!
Having been spiritually abandoned or mortally wounded by authority figures at an early age is likely the #1 reason many people have a deep distrust…even hatred… of God the Father—and any authority, as knowingly AND unknowingly sensed on a spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical level, as being potentially wounding and very dangerous indeed.
Even after having been born-again, a heart, spirit, and mentality deeply wounded by an authority figure, or figures, has a great deal of complicated and painstaking repair and redeeming work to be done (Philippians 3:13-14).
All of the above added together has resulted in a very dire and dangerous heart condition WITHIN, and the flourishing of innumerable consequences and choices WITHOUT—outside of us in the world—that support our right to choose what or who the hell “we report to”. For hell is what it truly is: A life of autonomy—independence, self-determination, self-rule, self-sovereignty, self-centeredness—in time and for eternity… is hell. The Good News? God’s made a way home; the gates of hell are locked from the inside; so we can choose to be free at last!
The Way Home: The Ruler; His Rules; and the Repentant Ruled.
God [Father, Son, and Spirit] is mighty merciful to have put in place a way for us to return to Him as The First and Final Authority, the Supreme and Sovereign Ruler of All. There’s only one way. And before anyone erupts in disdain of such an exclusive claim, please get a grip and be thankful that God—in the greatest sacrifice possible—has made a way at all.
1) Get to Know the Ruler… Three-in-One
The one, true God of all, supernaturally inspired certain men to take up a quill and imprint their own unique personalities to write a book called the Bible. Every human being is a theologian; all human beings have some sort of idea of who God [or lesser gods] is; we all are religious and have faith in something; but only the Bible provides all the knowledge we need to know about Theology and Doxology.
As various Bible scholars have aptly and abundantly pointed out…
“Theologia Deum docet, a Deo docetur, ad Deum ducit,” a Latin phrase often attributed to Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologians in the history of the church, provides an excellent summary of the purpose of theology. In English, the Latin words read: “theology teaches of God, is taught by God, and leads to God.” This reminds us that the final goal of doctrinal instruction is to direct us to the Creator God of all. The study of biblical doctrine is not an exercise in pointless intellectual speculation; rather, its end is to lead us to a greater knowledge and worship of the person and work of the Almighty. When rightly pursued, theology reminds us of who we are in light of who God is and moves us to worship Him with our whole being.”
“Knowing about the Lord is pointless without worship and praise. After all, the Devil knows far more about God than we do, and yet this knowledge gives him no benefit because he refuses to bow the knee in humble adoration (James 2:19). Let us continually ask ourselves whether our study of theology is making us more arrogant and eager to pick fights with those less knowledgeable, or if it is making us worship the Lord and his final authority in humility.”
John Calvin says, “[The] Father and Son and Spirit are one God, yet the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit the Son, but … they are differentiated by a peculiar quality” (Institutes 1.13.5). The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God, but the Father is not the Son or Spirit, the Son is not the Father or Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father or Son. This is the heart of our faith and the confession of the church throughout all ages.
Biblical theology is all about the Trinity’s Plan of Redemption: The Bible’s centerpiece called Christology: “These are written [RE: the Bible] so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, by believing, you may have life in his name” (John 20:30–31, parenthesis added).
Devoid of an acknowledgement of the Triune God—The Ruler and Authority over all that is seen and unseen—and a relationship with God—by means of being “in Christ” through repentance, justification, faith, and works done in His name—the bondage of Sin [by Adam] and sinning [by suppressing the truth and treating ourselves as the final authority] cannot be broken.
“It is sad that few Christians today are interested in theology. Perhaps this is a reflection on their fervor for Christ. How could anyone truly believe in Jesus and yet have no desire to learn all they can about Him and His work?”
God Rules! Get to Know Him…
“What place does regular, early-morning, meditative, deep and both alone and communal Bible study hold in your life? All of us should be concerned to study the Bible and Christian doctrines, for in doing so we will be able to present a distinctly Christian worldview and be assured that the Jesus whom we trust is the real Jesus. Take some time this week to learn about the basics of Christology, perhaps through a teaching series or a book on the person and work of Christ. Strive to make theology and doctrinal study a regular part of your life.”
2) Get to Know the Rules… Virtually Everything in Life is Governed by Rules… Stop Whining.
Once we acknowledge, repent, and get to know Father God by means of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and a relationship with the Son, by means of the person and power of the Holy Spirit… we can then relish and wholly thrive in His rules for living the God-glorifying and people-blessing life which humanity was originally created to live [before The Fall]!
Again, it’s about getting back to the Bible—and a look at just one place to begin with… at least for me… is Psalm 119: “Your Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet!” This effulgent, beaming, blazing, brilliant, and consummate place in God’s inspired, infallible, inerrant, and wholly sufficient Word is where a man after God’s own heart goes on and on about how God’s “RULES”—His word, ways, laws, claims, truths, observations, admonitions, exhortations, warnings, encouragements, and the complete adoration due His name, His Scriptures, His rules.
All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God—for the Beloved in Christ
“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:10-17, ESV, emphasis added).
3) Know the Heart of the Ruled: Yourself and Myself.
The “last” [E.g., within the cycle and organic journey of salvation, sanctification, and service until we die or Jesus returns] stage of “getting home”—and back on track under God’s reign and authority in our life as disciples of Jesus Christ—is about knowing our own heart, emotions, and faith-life lived out.
In Christ, we are the beloved of God… and we are sovereignly, wisely, lovingly, truthfully, and “hoveringly” [by the Spirit] ruled of and by God. That’s reality and what God has in place to provide us the best life until Christ returns to dispel ALL the vestiges of our resistance to this reality.
As we feasted on in pretty good detail and depth last week at the Training Table, the call God has placed on our life—as “the ruled”—in Psalm 139, verses 23-24, is huge, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, ESV)!
We are the ruled and most blessed ones… “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” (Augustine)
Rules are not for RAILING ON in our Sin and sinning, but for REST, Beloved of God. And once we are at rest on The Ruler’s Rock of Salvation and His rules for living, we are freed to serve as Light and Salt of this increasingly dark and fast decaying world.
PLEASE MARK THIS: These final verses [Psalm 139:23-24] at the end of the most infinite yet intimate description of how much THE RULER-GOD OF ALL OF ALL has made Himself known… made His ways and rules known… knows us… and wants us to be thoroughly known by ourselves… is in place SO THAT life’s ultimate question can be answered, resolved, and carried out, Question: What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever—including the eternal now we live in “Today…” (Psalm 95:7-8)!
For those who are in Christ God’s rules for righteous living are like the water is to a fish: The freeing resistance needed to flourish in every marvelous way that water-bound wonder of God’s creation lives and breathes and has its being! And, like a fish out of water, a disciple living outside God’s grace-filled rules is sucking wind, Beloved. (John 14:15)
This last and most personal issue pertaining to Why Anti-Authoritarism… RULES! is vitally [life-giving or taking] important: Each of our faith journeys is visibly, and yet mostly invisibly, connected to our Sinful and sinning resistance to The Ruler, His Rules, and being Ruled by how we were parented… or not. Most of us know very little about the details of our own story and heart; Satan knows it all and will use it to diminish the Spirit’s effect in you and me.
Paul’s loving and truthful admonition to the Philippians is bang-on here: “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus…” (v v 3:13-14)
The nearly-untranslatable verse, “…forgetting what lies behind…” calls us to this oftentimes very difficult duty which allows for all of God’s beauty to enrapture us: Paul is saying, “Now that you are in Christ and as secure as God’s promises are unbreakable, go back into your story; know it well; experience the details of the pain and the joys; carefully and intentionally place all of them at the foot of the cross where they have been crucified and redeemed; don’t do this alone; and you will then be far better prepared to live for The Ruler, by His Rules, as one Ruled… in Christ… the most blessed and beloved of God—so that it’s “Not for ourselves…” (Romans 15:1-2), but that others will know Him as well!”
This principle and process of “Holy, Sanctified Forgetting” is vital for the change of heart that God desires… and the world, the flesh, and the devil hates.
Living the Christian Life: Under the Ruler; in line with the most blessed rules; as one beloved and ruled… In Grace and Truth.
The Reason Anti-Authoritarism RULES… is our Sin and sinning. But there is a way home…
Under the Triune God, the most righteous, loving and truthful Ruler of the Bible, we can be set free to be know the rules graciously and over-abundantly given in God’s Word, and then joyfully yet tearfully [sin and suffering still exists] live life to the fullest by glorifying God and blessing others as one who is a sinner saved by grace and ruled by and in Christ!
Christ Rules; God has blessed me with rules; and all of life is repentance and a blessing as I follow Him as one who is ruled… and will reign with Him forever. Amen.