Joe Miller, my first collegiate coach at Anderson University in S.C. had a very strict policy around how we were to wear our hats. Something that would make Joe go crazy was seeing any player, regardless of the setting, wearing a hat backwards or at any other number of angles, because in Joe’s mind, a ballplayer wore their hat in a certain way, and any deviation from that specific form was grounds for reprimanding. I remember one of my earlier bus trips my freshman year, I was sitting towards the back of the bus, reading a book, and I had turned my hat around backwards because I could not see the movie on the screen that was directly above my seat. As I sat back watching the movie I saw a hand come across my vision, smack my hat off and send it flying three rows up on the bus and as I looked up I saw that Joe had walked to the back of the bus for that specific purpose as he saw me looking remarkably not like a ballplayer.
As I look back on that interaction, in any other setting I would have been furious with someone knocking my hat off my head, but in that moment, I did not feel anger, but rather respect, as I understood the policy and had not lived up to my end of the deal. Joe had an authority in my life, not only as my coach, but also as the man who had paid part of my education (or at least given me baseball money to go to school), and had earned my respect through his years of coaching at the collegiate level. Because of what Joe had done for me, the voice he had in my life, I was willing to come under his authority because I knew he had my, and the teams, best intentions at heart (whether I agreed with his tactics or not).
So many of us claim Christ, claim to be Christians, claim His blood that covers our sins, yet fail to live with Him as our authority. John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Here we can see an immediate connection by John between the “Word” and Christ. The “word” or Logos gives the idea of the living or speaking word of God that embodies all of His fullness. There is an obvious correlation here between not only the Authority of Christ, the Word made flesh, but also the Authority of the Word of God, or the Bible, to which all authority is given to us and is applicable for us. We can see, fully on display for us through John’s writing, the idea of the supremacy of Christ, as not only the God who dwelt among us and put on human flesh, but also the Creator God who always was and always will be. He is the supreme authority, He is the Master.
Even though the logical thought process here as believers in Christ would lead us to a point of understanding where our authority lies, unfortunately for many in today’s world it is much easier to accept the sacrificial work of Christ than the authoritative work of Christ. We are very quick to claim that His blood was sufficient for our sins, but if we are honest, do not strive to daily live as if he has Lordship over our lives.
John 28:18-20 gives us the account of the final words of Christ before He left his disciples and ascended into heaven. It says, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Not only do we see here Jesus’ direct claim of having the authority both in heaven and on earth, we also see Him give a very specific task to his followers, “make disciples”, and the way we do that is “baptize them” and “teach them to observable all” that Christ commanded. How do we find out what Christ commanded? The Word of God.
This leads us to place a heavy importance on Scripture. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” God’s Word, the Bible, needs to be of supreme importance to those that claim to follow Christ. As a ballplayer I could not expect to position myself correctly, or sequence batters correctly, if I did not spend time pouring over the scouting report, understanding hitters tendencies, and doing the preparation work. If we are honest, how much more time do we study hitters or pitchers than the Word? My preparation is key, as I prepare myself my execution will follow, and this principle is the same for us as we approach Scripture. If I learn to prepare my heart, evaluate and critically process the Word of the Lord, I am much more likely to execute well when the temptations come, when trials are faced, when my faith is tested, because I know where my authority lies.
Returning to Joe Miller, my coach in college. If I was willing to accept the authority of a man or merely helped me get through my collegiate baseball and academic life, why would I not give the ultimate authority to the One who was murdered on a cross so that I could have life abundantly now and eternally with Him?