Reading: Matthew 21: 23-27
Verse 23: By what authority are you doing these things?
Over the course of his three years in ministry, Jesus has built up a reputation as a great teacher, as a healer, and as a man of both the people and of God. He has loved and welcomed one and all – saints and sinners alike. The priests and elders have observed all of this and seem to have come to a point of decision. They asks Jesus, “By what authority are you doing these things”? In their minds they were hoping for an answer that would allow them to easily dismiss Jesus and His teachings. What they got was an invitation to delve in deeper. But that would mean change.
Today there is no shortage of need for clarification. Turn on the television or scroll through your Facebook feed and there are lots of controversies and arguments and sad situations and tragedies out there. In too many cases, though, it seems to me as if we like to get caught up in the argument or the controversy instead of delving down to the heart of the matter. Why? Because it is easier, it requires less of us. But God expects more.
As Christians we cannot retreat from the issues of our time. We must stand and be the voice of justice and love and community. The issues surrounding the flag controversy have deep roots – both in social justice and equality and in the respectful and loving use of power and position. The issues surrounding any other controversy – the LGBT community, the hate groups, the poverty of our reservation, you name it – also call for justice and equality and respect and love. But these are not the only things required. We must also wrestle with the same question: “By what authority are you doing these things”?
Our authority must come from and rest in God and His Word. As Christians, we must be willing to engage the issues and controversies of our time at the deepest levels. We cannot answer our call to bring the kingdom here to earth if we allow hate and injustice and prejudice… to exist in any form. In engaging the world may we live into Paul’s words: “Faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love”.