Speaking with authority
Luke 4: 31-32 “Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.”
Matthew in his gospel writes that Jesus taught as one who had authority and “not as their teachers of the law” (7:29).
It is well known that teaching rabbis would endlessly quote other rabbis when they were teaching. “Rabbi such and such says this…” or “I am here to tell you what Rabbi X said 5 years ago on this topic”. Now there’s nothing wrong with using some quotes to help your case. Preachers do it all the time. But can you imagine listening to your Pastor who only ever spoke like an editor of other people’s messages.
When I first began pastoring I went to a church where I had to prepare 2 sermons and a bible study every week. So for the first 6 months I preached my father’s messages (once I could decipher his handwriting). I did it because not only did it help me time-wise but also I didn’t feel like I had much authority in the pulpit. So I borrowed an authoritative voice and used that.
In the course of time I gained confidence from my own stories of life and experiences and more importantly finding God’s voice in the Bible and partnering my voice with His. I began to speak with my own authority and recognised that it came from God.
Authority in the pulpit isn’t connected to the decibels of noise coming out of your mouth nor how much sweat you pour out, neither is it determined by your upbringing, as Jesus of Nazareth would remind us. Nor does it come from some religious credential, Jesus didn’t have any. Nor does it come from a conformity to the religious rule book, Jesus tore his generation’s book up. No. The authority I speak about comes not from man or prestige or performance but from God.
He gives it through your life’s journey to be used maybe even years later. God fills your life with stories and experiences that belong to you, so that you can draw on them later in life.
God gives you authority through learned obedience. Painful journeys where you have learnt submission to His will.
God gives you authority beyond your years as you reside in Him.
Our churches need authority and Christians need to find their authoritative voice again.
The good news is that Jesus has said that He possesses all authority and He has given it to those who follow Him.