I'm about to challenge you. Ready? Here it goes.
Name a movie or television show that you have watched in the past ten years in which the authority figure of the story was portrayed with wisdom and integrity. Was he or she worth following? Was the antagonist of the story better off for having listened to them? Were they mocked as simpletons?
Or was the authority figure a know-nothing idiot-dad, corrupt police officer, backwards preacher, or bloodthirsty military general?
The message that has been preached to younger generations since the advent of the 60s counterculture revolution can be summed up in two words: QUESTION AUTHORITY.
Matters are worsened by stories like the revelations of the NSA's invasive spying on citizens without warrants. We're reminded of authority's downside every time we read about politicians whose views are shaped by lobbyists rather than their constituents. The question on the tip of our tongues seems to always be: "Who can we trust?"
Proverbs 29:2 (NLT) - When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
The people of North America have lived under the authority of the wicked for so many years that our growing contempt for authority has morphed into a belief that all authority is bad. Of course, this is far from the truth, but the refrain for the left, right, and center seems to be the same: QUESTION AUTHORITY.
Hebrews 3:17 (NKJV) - Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
In context, Hebrews 3:17 speaks of the spiritual authorities in our lives — pastors, bishops, elders. And this group has certainly been affected by the anti-authority crowd. Pastors are often considered employees of the church members, rather than the God-given spiritual authority who (God forbid) might possibly shepherd us away from sin.
But the most egregious offense is not to the ministry, but the Word of God itself.
Romans 6:15-16 (NKJV) - What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
What would the modern North American church consider to be the opposite of sin?
Grace? Love? Kindness? Servanthood? Smoochies?
Honestly, it's difficult to tell by listening to some of the pastors of mega-churches across the country (and the legions who try to emulate them), but while we are indeed saved by grace, Romans 5:16 says that sin leads to death, but it is obedience that leads to righteousness.
The Word of God (Who "changeth not") is not an authority figure whose commandments can be ignored, edited, revised, or updated according to the tides of culture.
Question authority all you like, but do not do so under the guise of Christian living.
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NKJV) - For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
The Bible is not malleable, able to be shaped and shifted to our whims just because we want it to be.
It is confounding to watch Christians make concessions in their lives, prefacing their reasons for disobeying portions of God's clearly-stated Word with phrases like, "Well, I just think..." or, "I just don't believe that God would..."
Yes, God is love. Yes, God is a god of mercy. Yes, we're saved by Grace.
But God doesn't want us to remain in the filth and confusion of this world. He has a greater plan for us. That plan doesn't involve us reasoning ourself into excuses or questioning the validity or authority of the Holy Word of God. We cannot reason away God's expectations for our lives. If we are to pursue holiness and even attempt to seek perfection in God, then we cannot lower the standards of His commandments to make ourselves more comfortable in our compromise.
Do you love Jesus?
John 14:15 (NKJV) - “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
There are some like the late Fred Phelps, who misrepresented the Scripture's laws and the spirit of those laws. But the same God of judgment is indeed a god of grace and mercy. We aren't to live in condemnation and guilt, but neither are we to live in the freedom of God's promise.
Be baptized in Jesus' name.
Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.