Why Do We Accept Human Authority, But Struggle With Divine Authority?
June 4, 2015
At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!” – Matthew 11:25-26, NLT
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” - Mark 10:15, ESV
God recently gave me a good analogy to share with others. Having shared it a couple of times in online conversation, I decided it was time to share it via a blog post. It’s about divine authority. I hope you enjoy.
Say I graduated high school this year. I did not have very good grades. In fact, I barely graduated. I also got into trouble a good bit. Out of the clear blue sky, on the day after graduation, Tim Cook, CEO of the largest, most profitable, most successful company in the world (AAPL), calls me personally and says, "I want you to be my new assistant. You obviously don't have to take the job. But it's a wonderful opportunity and I have selected you personally. I want you to think about it and let me know very soon. In fact, you can start on Monday."
Now, what many people do to God is the equivalent of simply ignoring the offer. But, suppose I decide I'm going to take Tim Cook up on the job. Clearly, I do not deserve such a wonderful opportunity. Yet, I decide to walk into his office on Monday morning and start demanding that he explain himself to me. I don't like Apple's new watch. I think it looks ridiculous. I start complaining about the battery life. I start questioning the financial statements. Tim assures me that all is well, and that he has things under control here. He can see that while my attitude is terrible, I am genuinely struggling. He tells me just to trust him for now, and after I've been here long enough, I will start to see that he is worthy of my trust, and that everything is actually fine. I tell him I don't believe a word he says. I ask Tim Cook who he thinks he is, and why he thinks he deserves to be CEO in the first place.
How long would that relationship last? Even if Tim Cook decides to show me mercy and let me hang around, would we be able to have a relationship that works?
See, humans, for whatever reason, understand and accept human authority. The last company I worked for in my investment career had a CEO that was just shy of being a billionaire. It was a huge company and the CEO was obviously a very important person. We had a Chief Investment Officer as the head of our group. We often interacted with the CFO, the CAO, the CRO, the COO... lots and lots of chiefs at that place. But the CEO was rarely ever seen. I saw him only twice in my 2.5 years working there. Once was in the elevator. The other time was during a meeting in which he made a surprise visit.
On that day, when he walked into the room, everyone in the room immediately changed. Everyone stood up, and they did not sit back down until he left. The look on everyone's face changed completely. Everyone's voice even changed, especially as they shook his hand. Their eyes got wide. Their voice got higher. They were clearly excited that he had stopped by. Everyone was doing their best to let the man know that they respected his presence in the room. It was as though we were in awe and gratitude that he had graced us with his presence. I am not exaggerating.
We can understand, accept, and work under the authority and importance of a CEO, for example. Yet, somehow we miss the sovereign authority and importance of the one who created the universe and owns everything in existence. We too often come to him demanding answers, as though we are in any position to demand anything from him. It's a bit crazy, really. That's why he tells us that we will never find him through human wisdom. Our wisdom would never get us even close to understanding him. So, we have to come with the humility and the faith of a little child. Otherwise, the relationship cannot work.