You know, I sometimes feel like I’m a real mean dad. You might not be able to tell, but I often am afraid for my kids’ well-being, not because I’m psycho, but because their coordination is that of a 3 year old (which is convenient for the 3 year old, but not so much for the 5 year old and 8 year old). I don’t blame them, as I remember having a growth spurt in my youth and man alive I was awkward and clumsy (they said it’ll wear off… but I’m still waiting).
So as I watch these clumsy kids play and interact and run, I get scared that they are going to collide into each other or into a counter top or into a large stationary wall that is clearly in their way but somehow has turned invisible as soon as they start running. I get scared that they are going to jump on their beds, fall off, and then bump their heads. I’m scared that they are going to find my hidden stash of ninja weapons and accidentally hurt each other (just kidding, my stash isn’t hidden).
In my fear, I tell them to stop. Stop running blindly, stop jumping haphazardly, stop flailing wildly. Just stop.
And that is when it hits me. I’m the mean dad. At least, that is what they tell me. But you know what? I will very likely still tell them to stop because it is for their own good. Perhaps for some of my own sanity, but mostly for their own good.
“By what authority are you doing these things?” Jesus was asked this by the religious leaders who had their vendor tables freshly flipped over. A fair question, I suppose, as they just had their whole lives turned upside down by a guy who claims to be on their side. In their eyes, Jesus wasn’t really on their side. In their minds, they were probably thinking friends don’t overturn friend’s tables. In their lives, it might have seemed like Jesus was being this mean dad.
But then Jesus explains to us his authority by a parable. A dad asks his two sons to work and one is rude and refuses but changes his mind, the other is nice and agrees but changes his mind as well. So which was the “better” son? Which did the will of his father? Which of the two acted by the correct authority?
The answer seems simple, it is the one who ended up doing what was asked of him, but why? By what authority is he acting? It clearly isn’t the father’s, as that son told him to get lost. It wasn’t by the other brother’s, as that brother actually did get lost. I would even argue that it wasn’t even his own authority as if it were up to him from the beginning, the poor vineyard would get no love whatsoever.
The authority, I gather, comes from our innate moral compass, graciously given to us by God, guiding us by the power of the Spirit to do what is good and right and true. This authority might not get us to kick tables down, but it might get us to help our friend who is in need, or our neighbour who needs a hand, or a stranger who is hungry. It is what drives us, what strengthens us to do what we do, what empowers us to be children of God.
So the authority isn’t about being mean or disallowing others to do whatever they want, but it is about doing what is good for all, even if it might seem to be the less fun option out there.
Here’s to the safety of our kids and the good of all people! Have a great week, everyone!