I’ve been engaged in a couple of interesting discussions about religion and politics, two subjects sure to ruin your appetite, two subjects that proper ladies should probably never participate in, not because we aren’t qualified, but because we should be smart enough to just avoid stepping in the muck and spend our time out delightfully trilling with the forest creatures instead. That’s a bit of wry humor. I am frequently reminded that I actually do need to leave the muck behind and get out and smell the roses once in a while.
There is this on going theme however, about authority, is it rooted in love or fear? Why do we obey? Do we drive the speed limit because we fear getting a ticket or do we drive the speed limit because we love the law? Or, as the atheists like to say, you just follow your “imaginary” sky-God because you fear punishment and hell! If this weren’t such a tragic and painful issue, born of such suffering and misery, I would be vastly amused. Amused, because some of those lunkheads have no idea just how defiant I am. I chose not to speed because I love the law. I love Christ because He first love me. It is always love that motivates me. Always. John 14:16 says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.“ Not if you fear me, but if you love me.
I don’t respond to fear well at all. I’m aware that I probably should, that common sense should lead one to, but the best I can muster is some pseudo-compliance, play acting really. When people try to use fear or intimidation to control me, I sometimes strategically comply, but in my heart I have just revoked your moral authority. It is like switches going off in my head, unqualified, unworthy, unacceptable. I am actually damaged goods, or I once was, “once was” because God is so good at healing what is within us, at fusing those broken bits with gold and creating a new creature, handing us beauty for ashes.
So in my mind authority is always born of love. I will comply like crazy of I can feel the love. That is a genuine desire to please. My heart is there, that is authentic submission. Anything born of fear, threats, force, however, like mandates, legal penalties, punishments, etc, and my heart will just reject it. Your authority is simply revoked, determined unworthy. Any compliance there is just pseudo-submission, strategic and temporary compliance.
Really ironic, because this same kind of defiance I have, is what motivates many non believers. They can only see authority born of fear, hence the accusations that the only reason I believe in Jesus Christ is fear of trouble, fear of hell. Well shoot, I’m laughing here, but I am so far beyond that, I actually am the trouble. It’s a good thing then that I’m in good hands, the best Hands really.
Translated politically, this idea of authority being born of fear becomes even more scary, because everything must now be mandated, forced, for your own good of course. Conversely however, those who believe we comply with authority out of fear, happen to drive like bats out of hell, with no respect for speed limits. So, so much for complying with authority out of fear! Apparently these policies, mandates, laws, punishments, people wish to bring into existence are only going to be for other people.
Children who are still emotionally immature, sometimes perceive authority as fear, at least fear of getting into trouble, or fear of displeasing their parents, but ultimately the goal there is to get them to a place where they eventually understand the rules, where they control their own selves, where they obey when no one is watching. Authority, now born of love. It can’t happen without discipline however. Love simply demands it.
There’s a really interesting dynamic in the culture right now, this idea that discipline and love do not go hand in hand. The two must be totally separate as if they are opposites. That seems like a broken idea that comes from abuse and wounding to me, this inability to perceive authority in a positive way, this unwillingness to see discipline and love as tightly entwined concepts. Discipline is simply rejected as abuse in some people’s minds. Authority is perceived as fear based power over others. Love does not exist in that equation, love is the other part, having only to do with feeling good, some mysterious chemical bliss hit. The world is wrong however. Hebrews 12:6 tells us, For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth….. Take it from a much loved daughter of a Most High God, it’s true. Love and discipline go hand in hand. Scripture is right, the culture is wrong.
Let me just end on a note of praise here, how amazing God is, how wise He is to know each one of us so well, to tailor His pursuit of us to our individual personalities. God knows me well, He knew the only way to reach me was going to be with love, to sneak in under my radar of defiance and earn my trust, my loyalty. God is worthy of all authority in my mind because of His love, love that has pursued one such as me for as long as I can remember.
How truly miraculous that is, because I understand defiance so well, I empathize with those fear based responses that revoke authority outright, and yet God didn’t leave me there. I have that same defiance within, that same refusal to submit to fear that many non believers have. I get it, threaten me with punishment and hell and I’ll just reject you outright, declare you unworthy. Or worse yet simply say, fine, bring it on!
I cannot abide bullies and abuse. It causes me to revoke authority. That is not the God I know however, the God I know patiently rebuilt my trust, gently enticed me in, so steadfast and reassuring. Oh yes, He is quite powerful, and a fear based response is more than justified, but there is another side to Him, one that is gentle and kind, one that will leave the entire flock to pursue just one little bleating lamb.