Church And The Authority of God, by Ed Underwood

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Writing a post about authority is like traversing a minefield. The best you can hope to do is to grab the attention of the wounders and the wounded, who are simply reading to determine if my words are going to uphold spiritual authority or hold it accountable.

Taken as a whole, the church clearly can’t live without authority, but church history and the personal experiences of most believers reveal that it doesn’t seem to have much of an idea of how to live with it. Almost all churches have some designed ways to exercise authority, some clearly stated, some less so, of organizing under leaders.

I have taken part in many discussions of biblical authority over the years about who should be in charge, who should submit, what should happen to those who don’t, and exactly what the Bible teaches about authority in the church. It amazes me that we’re so capable of highlighting some passages while discreetly setting aside other passages.

The tragedy, from my perspective, is that both those in authority and those who are not find it so easy to leave love out of the equation. When I enter into messy conversations with church leaders and followers, often the wounders and the wounded, what I “hear” through the accusations and counter-accusations is a deep desire for love.

The words of Jesus go right to the heart of all discussions, scenarios, and even disagreements concerning authority in the church:

Love one another.

The command to love one another is, I think, a good starting point for all theory and practice of church and the authority of God.

The challenge is to bring your woundedness as a leader or a follower into submission to Jesus’ Great Commandment.