The Issue Is Always CONTROL

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Ministry


We all want to have some, or an illusion of some control.

When I read this article by Bill Elliff, I again processed the concept of control…especially in the area of my heart to the Lord.

Take a look at this brief writing…

The Issue Is Always Control!

“By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matthew 21:23).

The Pharisees’ interaction with Jesus gives us a crystal clear picture of all in human history who are religious and yet oppose Christ. The accounts recorded in Matthew 21—happening, not coincidentally, in the last week of Jesus’ earthly life—wrap up the heart of the issue: It’s all about authority.

When you are confronted with a king, you have two options-kneel or stand. You can accept and submit to his authority or reject and resist.

The Pharisees were proud, unsurrendered people. They were in control of their own lives. They loved position and prestige and power. They loved being seen by men and recognized for their seeming religious piety.

But their religion was purely humanistic, as illustrated by their unwillingness to embrace the authority of the Messiah and by the corresponding absence of any real spiritual fruit. This unbended desire for control led them, inevitably, to crucify Christ.

Our Disobedience Tells the Tale

The two parables that follow the challenge to Jesus’ authority (the two sons who were asked by their father to go work in the fields, and the vineyard workers who killed the owner’s son) illustrate the result of an unbended life.

A man may say that he is spiritual, but the bottom line is whether or not he obeys. When God tells him to work in the field, does he? A true child of the King may struggle but will ultimately obey. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

And, like the vineyard workers who apparently thought their presence in the field gave them a right to ownership, if you push a self-willed Pharisee hard enough, they will destroy any challenge to their self-authority. They’ll kill you.

It’s Not Just First Century

Most of the battles we see in the church spring from this issue of control. There are many “tares sown among the wheat,” just as Jesus said in Matthew 13.

When genuine church leaders begin to make decisions under the initiation of God’s Word and Spirit, the Pharisees come out of the woodwork in opposition: “Who gave you this authority? We didn’t vote on this? This is supposed to be a democracy!”

It’s a first-century replay, and if you push them hard enough, they’ll crucify you. In a battle for the soul of a church, I once actually had death threats from some classic Pharisees.

This is always the issue in our relationship with Christ, as well. It always comes down to a battle for control. Every point of resistance is a question of what I will do with Christ’s sovereignty.

The Pharisees, obviously, were men who rejected Christ’s rule completely, but even those of us who know Him and have surrendered to Him wrestle with this issue throughout our earthly lives. The quicker we resolve this, the quicker we enter into the joy of our Master, which He has prepared for those who love Him.

Our Future Submission

“By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” is always the issue—and it will make or break us. At the close of this exchange in Matthew 21, Jesus gives the telling observation that “the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him” (Matt. 21:44).

One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). We can bend the knee now or later, but we will bow—and rightfully so—before the God of heaven and earth.

What are your thoughts on this…for I would love to hear them.  Leave me a comment below…

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