Posted By Nan

Acts 23-25

"Anything that demands reverence that is not open to being challenged or questioned is problematic" ~ Brené Brown

When that happens it is not reverence it is coercion and extremely abusive (my comment).

Before I start this blog post, I have not posted a blog for 3 weeks due to circumstances beyond my control. Today I am in a position to post again.

You may wonder what a quote about reverence has to do with Acts 23-25.

Last week I was 1,000 kilometres away from home at a family function. Many of the family members there had not been seen for many years. As I caught up with them I found myself having a conversation with a lovely relative.

She is a beautiful person and has a deep faith in God. 

But a comment she made was quite jarring. It was about a family member who she considered could be abrupt and rude at times. This family member had recently been diagnosed with Autism. She commented that she now understood this person’s sometimes rude behaviour. She admitted she had always thought there should be something wrong as she thought the person had been raised the right way because she had gone to a private school.

I was quite surprised by this comment. In my life I have not noticed private school graduates to be any more polite than government run school graduates.

What I have noticed however is that people who attended private schools were more likely to have been taught to keep quiet and maintain the “status quo”. 

In short. They were taught to have reverence for the leaders and to never challenge or question what they were told to believe or follow.

Sadly, this behaviour is what allows abuse to flourish and go unpunished. Hence the quote by Brené Brown. My comment also relates to this as enforced reverence for leaders and/or the rules is coercion and abuse. 

What does this have to do with Acts 23-25?

As we know by now, after all the revelations of sexual abuse within churches that was covered up, Churches are good at demanding reverence that allows abuse to flourish and go unpunished.

Whenever the interests of humans outweigh the interests of God, this abusive behaviour continues.

Paul had a message to give. It was the message of Jesus. 

Just as the religious leaders in Jerusalem had Jesus killed, the same leaders tried to kill Paul.

Just as Jesus did nothing wrong, so did Paul. The leaders wanted Jesus and Paul to be shut up because of their human interests that far outweighed the interests of God.

These religious leaders made up lies to try to get Paul killed. They even planned to ambush the Roman soldiers taking him outside Jerusalem in order to kill him themselves.

They demanded reverence and allowed no challenges or questioning of that reverence.

Human institutions, even churches, do the same. 

Over time, people become invested in their viewpoints and their power within the institution. This leaves them vulnerable to crossing a line where the interests of God are pushed aside for the interests of humans (especially them). It is very insidious and very easy to cross that line. Especially if there is no one there empowered to call out the behaviour.

You need to be vigilant. You need to challenge the demands for reverence. And if you are shut down when you challenge that reverence? You need to walk away. Because anything that demands reverence that is not open to being challenged or questioned is problematic. It is coercive and abuse. 

It is not of God.

Follow God.

Not human self interest.

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