Questioning Authority

The Andy Griffith show is quite the icon in American culture.  There are plenty of times when things get just too busy that I would love to find a Mayberry to go visit.  You know Mayberry – a place where people sat in front porch swings, sipping lemonade, visiting with neighbors – who they actually knew – and loved ones.  It was a place where the barber knew your name, where the mechanic knew your car, where a trip to the pond with a cane pole was a perfect way to spend an afternoon, and where “bud-nipping” solved most of the town’s problems.  There are not too many places like that anymore.  I’m not even sure Mt. Airy, North Carolina, the town the show was filmed, is too much like Mayberry anymore.

Mayberry was also a place where the sheriff didn’t carry a gun.  Did you ever notice that?  He had access to guns.  There was a gun rack close to Andy’s desk.  He kept his revolver on top of the china cabinet at the house.  But Andy never carried.  I know, there are some who think this was just a subtle, anti-gun message embedded in the show – especially considering Barney’s innate ability to always seem to get into trouble with his six-shooter and his one, shiny bullet.  If Andy were truly anti-gun, he wouldn’t have grabbed a shotgun when a fugitive was on the run, or loaded up his revolver when an ex-con came to visit.  I think there was a much greater message in the “sheriff without a gun.”

In the 1965 episode, TV or Not TV, Andy explained why he chose to not carry a gun while on duty.  He said, “When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he’s getting might really be fear. So I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I’d rather they respect me.”  Andy had something that many leaders only dream of – true authority.  He didn’t need a gun most of the time because the people in his town respected him and appreciated him.  Sheriff Andy had authority based on who he was, not because of a badge or a holstered Colt revolver.

In Mark 11, Jesus’ real authority is challenged by those whose pretentious authority He threatened.  Earlier in this chapter, Jesus came into the temple, and in act of righteous anger, he interrupted the booming temple economy.  He turned over the tables of those exchanging currency and selling goods to the pilgrims.  Instead of being able to come and worship, pilgrims had to deal with the hassle of the “worship market.”  Jesus’ actions undoubtedly cost the “authorities” a few bucks, so they questioned His right to do these things.  What they failed to understand was that Jesus’ authority was not granted by a man, an office, a badge, or even a Colt revolver.  Jesus’ authority was and is based on the virtue of His identity.  Jesus’ has authority because he is God.  And His authority is completely trustworthy.  And His authority will be on full display on the day that His name is proclaimed as King and “every knee will bow, in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

People in authority will fail us from time to time.  From time to time, even the best leaders will act out of anger, or selfishness, or sinfulness.  When leaders fail, it takes time, trust, and repentance to re-earn authority.  But Jesus’ authority is firmly rooted in His perfection.  And though we may not understand all of His ways all of the time, we can take great confidence that He has perfect authority over us and the intentions of his rule should never be questioned.  So, have you surrendered completely to the authority of Jesus Christ?  Or do you question His authority as you may question the authority of earthly leaders?

In Christ,

Pastor Brian

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