Sunday school today was based on a scripture from Luke 4 (verse 31) and Luke 20 (verses 1-8).
One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. "Tell us by what authority you are doing these things," they said. "Who gave you this authority?" (20:1-2)We were discussing this passage, and how it relates to Christ as Teacher (which was the name of the lesson). Someone said that Jesus has authority, but that he is kind and gentle, as well.
That struck me as two unrelated statements, but I think that many people link authority with heavy-handed dictatorship. How is it that we make that jump? I think it relates to the idea of power. When we, as humans, have power, it can be a small jump to oppression. It's easily one of our sins.
Jesus was human, but he was without sin. He spoke with authority then, and he does so now. He has the ultimate power, but he doesn't use it to oppress his children. There is a humility in Jesus that we would do well to imitate.
I think that nothing is more important to Jesus than love. He would use his authority to love us (and yes, I know, that love and kindness are two different things). He would not use his authority to oppress us, or to remove our freedom of choice, even it that choice means turning our backs on him.
And in Jesus, we see God. God understands, and tries to teach us, that power should not lead to corruption; that love prevents oppression, and that love cannot exist without the freedom to choose to love.
If we are made in the image of God, then that would be an aspect of our maker that we would do well to "imagine" in our own lives.