By way of introduction, this is one of the posts by the late Jay Ferris that has a special place in my heart. As anyone who knew Jay, knew he loved conversation and sought it at every turn. Often he was grieved with distractions that prevented conversation from getting past “news, weather and sports,” as well as the kind that happens when people do not want to be relational, but in control. I remember one such time, and from across the room seeing his face light up when he got a revelation for why the conversation was not getting off the ground. Later he pulled me aside and excitedly got me helping him with a video to illustrate a point. (Yes, that is my finger in the video below.) :-)
So without further ado, I present the following. Keep in mind this is a re-post, so I took the liberty of reprinting the reader comments that came in afterward. These are very rich, so I would encourage you to read them as well! – Pamela
A Kingdom of Honor
In our last post we spoke about the priority of being over doing. In this post we want to explore the difference between the ‘authority of doing’ and the ‘authority of being.’
I’ll begin by cutting to the chase. Authority of being works by honor. Authority of doing works by imposition. One is passive, and the other is proactive.
Jesus said in His kingdom that we don’t rule as the Gentiles do: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22:24-27.
In short, there is a difference as to how authority works. Authority of being is authority for living more than doing. It is perhaps best seen in families or households where the first commandment with promise is normative, “Honor your father and mother that it may go well with you and your days be long upon the land.”
Honor releases the best that is in a person. That being true, “the commandment with promise” has an even broader application than just between parents and children. The following 12 second video provides a graphic demonstration of how it works:
The drop of water represents the best that is in another person. Just as with the bead of water which is contained by the surface tension of the water, when we touch another person with honor, their tension is released and their content flows in the direction from which the touch has come. When we touch another person with honor, we release the best that is in them to flow in our direction.
“Jesus left there and went to his home town, and when the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘How does he do miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter, Mary’s son? Are not his brothers and sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ And he did not do many miracles there, except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” Mark 6:1-5 — also see Matthew 13:56-58
While Matthew attributes his unwillingness to do miracles in this context to their lack of faith, the greater context of both Mark and Matthew is lack of honor.
The kingdom of God is best seen in how we relate to one another – how we are with one another. The kingdom of God does not look like a lecture hall so much as an intimate conversation among those who love each other. It is in the context of speaking the truth in love (i.e. ’being in love”) with one another that we grow up into Him who is the Head, even Christ. This conversation can be as numerically small as two people, where Christ, (the best within us) is in the midst, or a gathering of many people. In either case, it is the honoring of one another that releases the best that is in the midst of them.
Kingdom authority operates in such a way as to release that conversation, and not to replace it with a lecture by doing all the talking, or imposing its will or perspective on the gathering, or on another person. For this to happen, however, those gathered together need to be sensitive to, or discerning of the authority that is present in their midst for such a conversation to take place.
A conversation full of people who are preoccupied with their own agendas never gets off the ground.
As an illustration of how this works, lets take a look at 1 Corinthians 16:15, 16: “You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.”
You see, authority in the Kingdom of God is not about over doing, but over seeing.
Please note that the above passage is not an admonishment to the household to Stephanas to lord it over the saints at Corinth who are younger in the Lord than they are. Rather it places the responsibility on those who are younger in the faith to be aware and yielding to those who are senior in time, experience and service. It is this recognition, submission, and honor that releases the authority of the kingdom to the benefit of the saints in a place. In this context it is not about titles, like elder or overseer, it is about the facts of life often inherent in spiritual seniority of time and place.
This operative principle of Kingdom authority works, not only in this larger sense, but also in the smaller sense of the Truth present in a very small conversation. Each of us who are a party to a conversation brings something of Christ to that conversation, and can discern this Christ who is in the others present – from the least to the greatest. Each one has something to contribute of Him, Who is the Head, and each one of us has a responsibility to discern and submit to the others present in the conversation. Otherwise the result is simply a conversation that is usurped by a lecture, a lecture coming from the one who is least sensitive to the presence of Christ in the midst, and so steps in by placing himself or herself in that place of preeminence – that place that belongs only to Him.
This kind of over doing authority has been the rule in what’s been calling itself “church” for thousands of years by now, beginning, at least with the “leadership” or authority of Diotrephes, in 3rd, (4th) John.
The most sure and certain way to spoil a small group or any conversation, for that matter, is to talk too much. This is a life killer, just like one who takes the Lord’s supper without discerning the body of Christ present at the table. This not only results in meetings that do more harm than good, but also in judgment, 1st Corinthians 11:17-34. For present purposes, let’s just call it “conversational gluttony,” even pollution.
As lovers, even lovers in training we are sensitive to what’s in the hearts of those around us. Love listens!