Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just Say the Word

"Say the word and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority." Luke 7: 7b-8a

Walking into a classroom of twenty five preschoolers for the very first time was a daunting experience for me as a new teacher. All of a sudden, fifty eyeballs were glued to my every move and their tiny antennas were tuned into my every word. It wasn't enough that I held a place of authority by the mere fact that I was called "teacher. " Oh no...I had to pass their tests. If I passed, then and only then would I speak with true authority.

Their first (and on-going) test was "What's my name?" In my case, walking into this position eight weeks into the new school year, I wasn't given their names weeks ahead of time. I learned as I went along. By Christmas I got their first names down pretty well with a few exceptions, that, to this day, still give me trouble. Those poor kids, they want no excuses like, "Hey, I'm forty-something! I'm lucky to know my own name!" No way! I've got to get their names straight! That's how they know they're significant to me.

The next test was "Do your words match your actions?" Every action has a reaction according to the laws of science. So too, with human interaction. There's always something a child can and will do to test your authority over them. But, how we react to those instances rings very loudly and significantly in a child's ear. If I was asking a child to show kindness to their classmate, no matter how annoyed with them they were, I too, had to show kindness to my students even if they were being unkind or annoying to me. That doesn't mean I have to like what they were doing or allow them to continue their wrong behavior but, I did have to communicate my disapproval in a kind way.

Finally, "Draw the line!" Everyone needs boundaries. They wanted to know if I would hold them to the same behavioral boundaries set for them by the lead teachers. They wanted to know I respected and followed the same rules they were expected to abide by from the other authority figures they already tested.

Now, "Say the word!" I've passed the tests (with the exception of calling them all by the right name 100% of the time). I've now earned the right of authority in their school lives. I say the word and they will do as I ask because I've been tested and been found trustworthy, fair and genuine.

In Luke 7:1-10 the centurion must have been watching Jesus and testing His authority just like the preschoolers have tested me. We know Jesus passed because the centurion said, "Just say the word, Jesus and whatever you say, it'll happen 'cause you've got the authority!" But what's significant in this conversation is that the centurion understands that Jesus isn't just wielding his own authority around willy-nilly. He says, "For I myself am a man UNDER authority with soldiers under me." In other words, he understood that Jesus lived as a man under God's authority. Jesus did only what God asked/commanded of Him, so too, whatever Jesus commanded would be done because He was/is The Authority over all the universe.

Just like Jesus was given the right of authority in the heart of the centurion I too, must accept His authority in my own life especially if I say I love God. It doesn't always happen in an instant. Like my preschoolers, I put Jesus to the test, too. I want to know, "Am I significant? Do you know my name? Will you do what you say you will, Jesus?" And when I hear Him call me by name; when He proves Himself faithful over and over again I can finally say, "Just say the Word, Jesus!" And have the faith to know it will be so.

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