Daily reading: 20 August

What does 'authority' mean? 

Something to read

The centurion answered, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, "Go", and he goes, and to another, "Come", and he comes, and to my slave, "Do this", and the slave does it.'

Matthew 8, 8-9 New Revised Standard Version

Something to think about

The centurion's military life has been so based on authority, he just assumes that Jesus’ power must operate in the same way. It's a strange kind of faith, but Jesus honours it.

Indeed, in the famous passage that follows, Jesus is ‘amazed’. This man's faith in the system he has served has prepared him to believe in a higher power.

To call, to follow, to obey… until today, these words have meant something very different to the centurion. But now he is in the presence of a very different kind of authority.

As Christians, our followership is not always unquestioning, and certainly not unthinking - it recognises the grace with which God exercises authority in our lives.

Something to do

Make a list of all the authorities and power structures under which you work – at work, as a citizen in society, and so on. Which are you happy to participate in? Where can you set an example?

Something to pray

Master, I acknowledge your ultimate authority over my life. Grant me grace to act like you within the authority structures of society. Where these are based in goodness and justice - as you would wish them to be - help me to put these values into practice for the good of others in my community.

Today's reading was inspired by an original contribution from Just Living, a fresh expression of church in Devon devoted to the Christian pursuit of justice for the poor and closely linked to Christian Aid.