Great Exchange: Commission + Authority

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Imagine asking for help with your homework from the most powerful man in the world. On a Friday night after a long day of school that is exactly what Amy Carter while her father Jimmy was still President. Stumped by a question on the Industrial Revolution, Amy sought help from her mother. Rosalynn was also fogged by the question and, in turn, asked an aide to seek clarification from the Labor Department. A “rush” was placed on the request since the assignment was due Monday. Thinking the question was a serious request from the President himself, a Labor Department official immediately cranked up the government computer and kept a full team of technicians and programmers working overtime all weekend…at a reported cost of several hundred thousand dollars. The massive computer printout was finally delivered by truck to the White House on Sunday afternoon and Amy showed up in class with the official answer the following day. But her history teacher was not impressed. When Amy’s paper was returned, it was marked with a big red “C.”  Campus Life, May, 1981  p. 59. Talk about a check to their authority.  A middle school teacher checked the entire authority of the Labor Department with barely a passing score.

 

Maybe that is a more common feeling than we would like to admit. Where we don’t really feel like we have the authority to make any real change, no power to make a difference or a lasting impact; whether in ourselves, in our community, or especially in our world. It doesn’t take long reading the newspaper or watching the evening news to feel a bit overwhelmed. Yet, there is more to the story than meets the eye. Last week, we started a sermon series called the GREAT EXCHANGE, looking at how God calls us to invest all that is his as an investment in us, as a way to craft within us a character like Christ, but it doesn’t stop with CHARACTER. In fact, God gives us something greater than just the goods around us; he gives us a COMMISSION.

 

This morning, as we go back to the book of Genesis 1 where we are going to remind ourselves of our divine commission and what it means–a partnership to achieve what God predestined, yet it all starts with…

A Divine Authority- Even the commissioning of men and women of the armed forces is completely contingent on a greater authority. Title 10 U.S. Code Subsection 531 makes it clear that a commissioning is subject to the authority, direction, and control of the President. It is one thing to claim authority and it is another to possess authority. If you have kids you’ve probably experienced their decision to make claim–to your car, house, etc. We find God’s true authority stems from his power: (Genesis 1:26-29) 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

Pastor Wendell Griffen put things into perspective: “To act on God’s behalf is an audacious belief, however audacious our calling and claims may seem, remember that our audacity must be traced to God.” It is from God’s authority that mankind is brought to a magnificent place. We receive both a voice and a value that goes beyond where we were born, beyond the black marks of our past, beyond how much authority you can drum up or try to use. God as he made us, invites us into a partnership to extend his authority beyond the garden into the greater world; beyond Sunday and into our workplaces. From our homes into those hard situations as image bearers of God.

 

God offers us a chance to be spirit propelled rather than self-propelled, to align with his authority rather than throw up our hands in apathy.  Alcoholics Anonymous describes it like a divine stage, “Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show…if only we would do as he wished, the show would be great.” When we run the show, our names have to be in the lights, but when we feed on God’s authority, something paradoxical happens—we are able to lower ourselves to the level of others without lowering our value, serve without sinking, love without losing out…

 

For the longest time, I wasn’t sure what a Christian commission really looked like practically. You are baptized but then what? Yeah, we are called to make disciples of the entire world, to serve as we’ve been served, but this came to life for me when I went to church on a Saturday morning for a meeting. I was in college, was attending a Christian Church there, and had scheduled a mentoring meeting with the pastor. At about 7:15 in the morning, I walked through the door and got a text from the pastor that he was running late. So I just grabbed a chair and waited. Then I heard something in the fellowship hall, as I walked in I saw one of the elders named Dennis on his hands and knees waxing the fellowship hall. There was no fanfare, no words, he just asked me how I was doing as he continued to strip and coat the floor. It spoke powerfully to me when I stopped and considered his background. Dennis was a pharmacy director for a hospital and his wife was a retail pharmacist. He is a wealthy man but you would have never known it. He wore old suits, his wife wore homemade dresses, he lived under his means so he could bless others for his beloved master, he served others because he had been served, and his time and talents were no longer his own. He was a medical professional, credentialed, and yet he realized that he was an expression of Christ.

 

Notice what happens as a result of our commissioning. You might pick up trash for a living, work a minimum wage job, or be working to win a Noble Peace Prize, but regardless of your earthly standing, you have a divine station that stems that protrudes into every situation. Isaiah 40:31 gives us the hope of staying connect to an authority beyond us– Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Just like donning a uniform, suddenly we represent something much greater than just ourselves; we have been given in a great exchange, a new identity as ambassadors, and co-creators.

 

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