That's a mouthful, I know, but it lies at the heart of the theme of today's post. And I want to build a case for the topic I'm writing about today, which is our society and culture's problem with accepting the authority of Christ. I'll begin here: In 2019 I wrote a blog titled Is Your Biblical Worldview Hebrew or Greek? It Makes a Difference! In this article I pointed out that from the beginning of the Bible's existence, there has been a tension between the Hebrew mindset and the Greek mindset when it comes to interpreting it and understanding Scripture. Having a Biblical Worldview necessitates that we rightly view the world through the lens of God's Word. But if you study history, it is easy to see that the manner in which the Body of Christ/the Church has viewed God's Word has changed through the centuries. And I remember waking up to the reality that just because we believe certain things "according to the Bible" today, it may not necessarily be consistent with the original writings and intent of God's inspired Word.
That means that we should be reading our Bible [and understanding it] from the perspective of who it was written to (the Hebrews), and not through our own Western lens, which is based on a Greek mindset. One of the best explanations I've heard about the difference between the two mindsets comes from Todd Weatherly, of Bride Ministries Church: "The Hebrew mindset says, "I will do it [through obedience], and then I'll understand it." He says the Greek mindset thinks like this: "I need to understand it first, and then I'll do it". Which one puts God first?
Here's another way to look at it ... The Hebrew mindset allows for varied interpretations, and a passage can have multiple meanings [both in the physical and the spiritual realms] -- all to be revealed to the reader [by the Holy Spirit] from God's perspective. On the other hand, Greek thinking is very black and white; laden with precise exegesis rather than being rich in possibilities. Greek thought nails the meaning down; it can mean one thing, and one thing only. When we consider that Socrates lived 400 years before the crucifixion of Christ, and is considered the father of Western philosophy, we can understand why the Greek mindset would have been in direct conflict with the Hebrew mindset at the time the Bible was written and translated. The Socratic method of learning can be summed up, thusly: learning through the use of critical thinking, reasoning, and logic. From there, one questions, analyzes, and simplifies to get the one correct answer. The physical world contains the answer; the spiritual influence isn't considered. Can you see that influence in our modern American Church, and why it would lead to a religious frame of mind?
All of this leads to a blog post I wrote earlier this year, titled Why the Western World is Confused About the Kingdom of God. Because we read the Bible with a Greek mindset, we tend to form a rigid [and religious] belief system based on single concepts we've deduced from logic and reasoning. For example ... for years I read my Bible, never grasping or receiving the idea of what Jesus meant by saying His primary purpose for coming to earth was to bring the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the Jews (Matthew 15:24 and Luke 4:43). I had been taught throughout my Church experience that the primary message of Jesus was the one of Salvation, yet I only find that word used or referenced six times in the four Gospels, and only once by Jesus (He spoke of being "born again" [or Salvation] in John 3:1-5). Yet, the Kingdom of God is mentioned at least 62 times, and nearly every time by Jesus, Himself.
So why didn't I ask the appropriate questions about the Kingdom, or seek more understanding of why my Lord and Savior spoke so much about it? Why didn't I hear the Gospel of the Kingdom of God taught from the pulpits of the churches I have attended? And although "Kingdom" has now become somewhat of a popular sermon theme these days [and a Christian buzzword, I think our Western mindset still is not in tune with the understanding of what Jesus meant. And as simple and absurd as it may sound, I believe our confusion lies in the fact that we in the Western world, and especially here in America, have no concept of what it means to live in a kingdom or under a King.
And here is where I finally come to the heart of today's post ... Having been raised in our American identity of separation from a king in order to secure our God-given rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, we have what might be called a genetic bias towards authority; it's in our national DNA to be independent and to question any authority that threatens those rights. In fact, our culture has been bred to reject and question authority. So, when Jesus says, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me" (Matthew 28:18), anyone who is a non-believer and doubts His kingship, is naturally going to question His authority in their life. But, here is something that astounds me ... Jesus proclaims His authority and then announces that He is going to give that authority to us so that we might defeat the Enemy in our lives, take back the dominion we were given in the earth, and re-establish the rule of the Kingdom of God. "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you" (Luke 10:19).
But the American Church has not done a good job of teaching us these concepts! Yes, we have power and authority to rule in His stead, but He is still the King and possesses All authority! Psalm 24:1 tells us, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness of it; the world and all who dwell in it". Then Psalm 115:16 says, "The heavens are the Lord's heavens, but the earth He has given to the children of man". We Greek-minded, Western-thinking Americans must be reminded that these verses are not saying God gave us ownership of the land called earth. At any time, He could take it back; that would be His exclusive right as King of the Universe, and Creator of earth. When God "gave" us the earth, He did not relinquish His ownership or authority over it.
We possess the earth as a trust, or stewardship. In Genesis 1:26-28, He gave us dominion [authority; jurisdiction; the right to govern in His stead] over the earth in order to extend the government of Heaven to this earthly realm. He gave us rulership, but not ownership. It is a privilege to rule this earth, and we must not take it for granted; we will be held accountable to the King for how we manage His kingdom here on planet earth. We are subject to His authority!
But again, I fear that the American Church is a result of the changes in interpretation of God's Word that have come down through the centuries and been influenced by our Greek mindset. Have we become men and women who hold to a form of religion of our own making (and according to our national identity) but denying its power? 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self .... rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people".
Once again, I suggest that our Greek/Western mindset is at odds with the true Biblical concept of God/Jesus's authority in our lives, and leads us to denial of His authority, which then leads to rejection [of] and rebellion [against] that authority. Luke 6:46 exemplifies how Jesus views this behavior: Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Remember, the Hebrew mindset says, "I will do it [through obedience], and then I'll understand it." The Greek mindset thinks like this: "I need to understand it first, and then I'll do it". Which one accepts the authority of God in their life?
And here's where we need to take heed of 1 Timothy 4:1, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons ...". Our national history reveals this in our decisions to throw God out of our schools and the halls of government. Furthermore, we see it in the tendency of our educational systems to teach atheistic curriculum, pointing to socialism and marxist philosophies as the better way. And Church leaders are guilty of teaching unBiblical social doctrine, leading many to mistakenly legitimize their sin through Church membership. But this seems so "upside down" to me!
Today, we find many of the inhabitants of our country rejecting the authority of Christ in their lives as too restrictive and limiting, yet they are embracing the authoritarian rule and ideology of oligarchies as a better way to administer a society. Little do they know that there is true Freedom in Jesus's authority in our lives. Somehow, we have gotten way off track. Because it is our national predilection, or bias, to "buck the system" and push back against authority, we have listened to the lies and wicked deception of those who renounce the power and authority of Jesus in favor of the false promises of Satan that self-indulgence and self-worship is where we will find our salvation.
That's the same lie he sold to Adam and Eve in the Garden and the same false promise that they could be their own God! Lord, help us! Our nation has turned its back on You and we are in danger of calling Your righteous judgment down upon ourselves! For myself, I bow to Your power and authority in my life, and I do not question Your Sovereignty over the earth. I choose to have the Hebrew mindset and obey Your commandments in Your Word, trusting the Holy Spirit to reveal Your Truth. And there's no amount of logic or critical thinking of the Greek mindset that will convince me to reject Your authority in my life. The fact that our universities no longer teach critical thinking will only serve to further remove the understanding of Your authority. We are in great need of a spiritual reset. Come Lord Jesus!
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1 Corinthians 1:22-25 For Jews demand signs (attesting miracles), and Greeks pursue [worldly] wisdom and philosophy, but we preach Christ crucified, [a message which is] to Jews a stumbling block [that provokes their opposition], and to Gentiles foolishness [just utter nonsense], but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles), Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. [This is] because the foolishness of God [is not foolishness at all and] is wiser than men [far beyond human comprehension], and the weakness of God is stronger than men [far beyond the limits of human effort].