Image via WikipediaLet me conclude by suggestion that the right use of authority, our willingness to be ruled by law and our commitment both to fulfill and transcend the demands of justice are all essential to the effective outcome of our evangelical witness. When we fail to exercise authority rightly (that is according to the standards of this world or not at all) we abandon the Gospel. Again, as Paul writes:
Even those who do not love us, expect better of us than they do of themselves, and even more at times than we do of ourselves. The right understanding and exercise of authority within the Church and by the Church is not optional. Once upon a time, the Church's use of authority in the service the good of the human family, converted an empire. Granted this conversion was imperfect, but then what conversion isn't? If this were true during the patristic era, how can it be any less true in our own?
Speaking on the exercise of divine authority in Christ, St John Chrysostom says that "God wants for nothing and has need for nothing. Yet, when He humbled Himself, He produced such great good, increased His household, and extended His Kingdom." The saint then turns his attention from Christ to the Church, to us and himself: "Why, then, are you afraid that will become less if you humbled yourself?"
The exercise of authority, the upholding of the rule of law, the fulfilling and transcending of the demands of justice requires from us--from me--a humility that we--I--often lack. But this lack reflects fear and a lack of the love that drives out fear. Looking into my own heart I know that I often fail to exercise the authority I have been given because of my own fear and lack of gratitude for what I have been given in baptism and ordination--I wonder is it any different for any of us?