Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, July 11, 2020
Okay, today we are going to discuss a godly response to ungodly authority. All of us have had a boss, teacher, family member or government official (representatives are elected while bureaucrats are appointed) who have abused their god-given authority. How we respond can be the difference between enhancing the kingdom of God or bringing ill repute to the same.
In every instance, we must remember that we are ambassadors for the Messiah. (Note to self: there are many times I wish I had remembered that at the time. And I thank God there is no “reply all” button to this RR.). We have delegated authority… 2 Corinthians 5:19c He has entrusted the message of reconciliation to us. The previous part of verse 19 reminds us that both we and our abusers are forgiven. 2 Corinthians 5:19b …not counting their trespasses against them….
None of this is to excuse abuse of authority. Yeshua was not a doormat and we are not called to be doormats either. It is helpful if we don’t “wear our feelings on our sleeve.” This is a euphemism that means we are not offended at every little thing and we know who we are in Messiah. We agree with Paul who says to the Galatians (and to us)… Galatians 2:20 and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me. And the life I now live in the body, I live by trusting in Ben-Elohim—who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Another helpful hint… It helps to be love motivated. 2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Messiah compels us, since we have concluded that One died for all; as a result all died.
All of that to lay a foundation for what comes next. We have to see abuse as a spectrum from mild to severe. Mild forms might be the color your boss chooses to paint your office. Severe is anything that carries with it the expectation or demand that you will break the commandments of God. Rabbi’s note: And Yeshua’s words (found in the New Testament) are consistent with the commandments found in the Torah, Prophets and Writings of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Naturally, the response to abuse should be consistent with the level of abuse. If the boss wants to paint our office an awful color, say something before it goes on the wall. If he/she doesn’t listen, well we tried. It is not a good witness to pout, kick and scream, or carry on for days, weeks or months because we don’t get our way.
I want to say again that ALL responses should be done with respect. Respectfully tell your boss, “I hate that color and it will be hurtful to me every day I enter my office.” Okay, now I’m being silly, but don’t miss my point; respect is a critical ingredient in every response to authority.
Another option to abuse is to change spheres of authority. You could always find someone else for whom to work. Some people who can’t live with this government decide to leave (good luck on finding a better place) and renounce their citizenship; but that’s an option.
We are commanded to honor all authority, even authority to which we are not submitted. For instance, we should honor our friend’s boss even if we don’t work there. Same for our friend’s teacher at a different school. How about our friend’s parents, or even a government of another country we are not visiting at the time. We must remember all authority is given by God. Romans 13:1 Let every person submit himself to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are put in place by God. 2 So whoever opposes the authority has resisted God’s direction, and those who have resisted will bring judgment on themselves.
This narrative could go on, but let me shorten it here. I want to give you four possibilities and four matching options. These options involve authority to which we are submitted.
- Authority makes good decision – honor and submit.
- Authority makes unwise decision – honor and object but obey.
- Authority makes wrong decision (but not sinful) – honor and appeal.
- Authority makes sinful decision – honor yet disobey.
There is plenty of Scripture that informs us to honor authority. Here is just a sample: in the home (honor your parents – Exodus 20:12), in the workplace (whatever you do, work at it – Colossians 3:23), in the government (give unto Caesar – Mark 12:17), and in the congregation (obey your leaders – Hebrews 13:17)
I pray your Shabbat will be full of Shalom. For those who can get to Shomair, we are having a service at 10:30 Saturday morning. Isaiah 62:6a On your walls, Jerusalem, I have set watchmen (hif’kad’e’ti shom’rim). God has appointed guardians, That’s what the name of our congregation means. We are appointed and our appointment is at 10:30 on Shabbat. Hope to see you then.