"Word about the authority and power of Jesus was spreading, and for those who were there that first, extraordinary evening with him, for those who were set free and made whole, truly it was a night never to be forgotten."
—From Ch. 15 ("Real Authority"), Jesus Journey
My husband and I had recently moved to Boston, a hub of cutting-edge ideas and innovation, a place filled with human determination to bring felt change to the world. There was this thrilling sense in the air that one could achieve nearly anything with the right amount of brains, grit, and sheer force of will.
It was in this setting that my questions of personal contribution began to spin, and I found myself plagued by a deep ache to play my role in the story, God’s Story.
On one particular day, as I walked along the Charles River, deep in thought about who and what I might become, my eye caught a flurry of three birds in the air just above the rushing river. Two larger black birds spun circles around a smaller song bird. My justice oriented mind instinctively searched for a way to help the underdog (or shall I say, underbird?). (And no, I cannot blame this response on any innate or deep love for animals—my Alaskan roots didn’t really groom me in such a way.)
So, naturally, I sprang into action, consumed with how I might come to the aid of this defenseless bird. I threw rocks at the black birds (because I have phenomenal aim) as they continued to team up on their smaller counterpart. Unfortunately, this only managed to temporarily distract them, and I watched rather helplessly as the song bird was systematically overpowered and eventually forced into the river.
This calculated act of the strong destroying the weak offended me deeply, and I was uncharacteristically enraged, tears beginning to brim over. Clearly, something deeper was at play, as it’s not every day that I get drawn into the melodrama of nature’s survival of the fittest.
I found myself in a familiar place that day by the Charles River, tired of merely having strong feelings about injustice, wanting to acquire a skill set that might actually position me to offer real help to people in real need. I wanted a clear and recognizable badge of authority, and following considerable process, becoming a lawyer seemed like a logical next step.
Nearly a decade later now, law school has come and gone, and I have my overt stamp of authority. I am a trained attorney, and according to this metric, the ideal advocate for the underrepresented. I now live in Beirut, Lebanon, at the center of the greatest humanitarian crisis on the planet. Refugees flood the borders daily and their stories shake me to the core. (Yes, so much more than a songbird being driven into the Charles River.)
And while there remains a part of me that wishes I could still say that becoming a lawyer has sufficiently prepared me for the harsh reality that surrounds me, I’ve found another reality to be far more true and far more real...
You see, what set Jesus apart was the place and person from which he derived his identity, and thus his subsequent authority. His significance was rooted in one unchangeable fact: He was the Son.
The authority of Jesus to bring change and set the captive free was not rooted in his dynamic teaching, or his carpentry skills, or his social network. Rather, as Trent points out in this chapter, Jesus’ authority was intrinsically linked to the fact that he was God’s child.
The way that Jesus walked planet earth laid the groundwork for us to live similarly. Something catalytic is set in motion when we too take our place as a son or daughter. Because it is from this foundation that our prayers and our actions are fueled by the power and hope of Holy Spirit. It is there that true authority is born.
Our trouble is truly living from the place of our sonship, our daughtership. We are so driven to seek external and overt access to authority. We pursue it through the acquisition of wealth, beauty, knowledge, or respected places of influence. And while all these things can at times be effective vehicles for kingdom come, the preeminent place of influence is remaining in—and living from—our essential identity as children of God.
Today's guest post is by Marisa Chud: "My name is Marisa, and at present I live in Beirut, Lebanon with my (amazingly good looking) husband and my two (absolutely beautiful and energetic) boys. Following my completion of law school, our young family made the long trek East, drawn by the Syrian refugee crisis and a belief that Jesus is at work making all things new in the Arab world. At my core I am an advocate and a dreamer, but most recently my time is absorbed with the all-consuming tasks of learning Arabic and instilling curiosity in my children (and mostly just keeping them alive)."
Photo credits: Chelsea Hudson