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When I was in the Navy, there was a short period of time where I was stationed at Coronado Air Base right outside of San Diego. It was my first day there and this woman walks in wearing blue jeans and a casual shirt. Nothing fancy, like a typical commissary wife. She sat down at the desk and started talking to everyone and she said she was going to make some cookies and asked what kind everybody wanted. Now, I love cookies. It is probably my one weakness when it comes to sweets. Even though I was new, I had to chime in and I was in the minority, but believing in the philosophy that the squeaky wheel gets the oil…I wouldn’t shut up. A man will do just about anything for a home-baked chocolate chip cookie.
So I kept pestering, and I could tell she was getting annoyed with me by the looks she kept giving me. But I didn’t give it much thought because well, I thought she was one of the guy’s wives; so I was, and I hate to say this, rude and obnoxious. I wanted chocolate chip, not oatmeal. So imagine my surprise when the next day this woman walks into our office with a big batch of oatmeal cookies wearing, not blue jeans and a casual shirt, but this time wearing a khaki pair of pants, a khaki shirt, and a senior chief insignia on her collar. The day before, I had not recognized who she was, nor did I recognize her authority and more specifically her authority over me, and had I known, I would have kept my mouth shut and shown more respect. Now, needless to say, when I realized who she was, her rank, and her authority over me…I ate the oatmeal cookies and raved on and on about how good they were.
I wonder if I had known from the get go who she was, would that have changed how I responded? Or was my desire for what I wanted so great that I still would have ignored that truth and pretended that I had the ultimate authority? I wonder… if people really knew Jesus and the authority He has over us (whether we recognize it or not), would it change how we listen and how we obey?
(Barry Robinson is the pastor of Williamstown United Methodist Church. He can be reached at email@example.com or call 859-823-5171.)