By what authority?

I woke in the night after dreams about war. I’ve spent the morning considering how little attention I paid to Syria during the Obama administration because it just seemed so complicated, and life was busy, and frankly, everyone involved seemed like a bad actor.

I think I’m in pretty good company.

My outrage stems from the current President’s hypocrisy, unwilling to let Syrian people come here, but willing to invoke their babies to justify firing off big missiles. I hope we can agree to agree on this.

The question of his authority is the one that also comes up in the verses from Luke that I read today (Luke 19:45-20:19).

“Tell us: What kind of authority do you have for doing these things? Who gave you this authority?” (Luke 20:2, CEB)

The religious leaders want Jesus to make some claim, any claim, they can use against him.

In one of the first classes I took in seminary, we read Professor Robert Pazmino’s book “By What Authority Do We Teach?” There’s some measure of the human and the divine in the authority we invoke, isn’t there? Some portion of study and experience alongside some sense that we are acting on God’s behalf.

I don’t know what the President really thinks, whether he uses words like “child of God” because they sound good or poll well, or because he actually feels something. I doubt the latter because the timing is suspect. He invokes God as the heavenly parent of “beautiful babies” when he has never before noticed children from Syria as human beings, much less beautiful.

It’s hard to trust a leader whose authorities seem to be Breitbart, Fox News, and ratings. As I said on Facebook last night,

If you actually cared about the beautiful babies, you would have offered them safe haven, not Tomahawk missiles.

What’s my authority? I hope it’s God, followed by interrogations of scripture and tradition, seasoned by my life experience.

That feels like following Jesus to me.

Holy God, I pray for the wounded, the grieving, the lost; for leaders, good and bad; for all in harm’s way. Amen. 


 I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? The full schedule can be found here.

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