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Burnt Eggs, Don Mattingly and Biblical Authority

Don_Mattingly_Dodgers.jpg

When I was growing up I used to practice hitting in my back yard. Our yard was relatively small for hitting real baseballs so I set up a tee and then taped a rope to a baseball and knotted the rope to the tee so I could practice hitting the ball straight. Our house was to my left and a creek was to my right. Miss too much either way and I had trouble.

My dad was an excellent hitter in high school and in his fastpitch softball career. He taught me several things about hitting but most of the time I didn’t consider my dad an authority on baseball compared to those I idolized growing up. One of those MLB players I mimicked growing up was Don Mattingly. I read books and articles on his thoughts about hitting. I drew a picture of him hitting and gave it to the birddog scout that got MLB scouts to look at me in college. I even have a picture of Don and I at his restaurant when I turned 16. Suffice it to say, Donnie Baseball had a special influence on me as a baseball player.

Now, if Don Mattingly, my dad and I were sitting at a table in his restaurant discussing hitting, whose opinion do you think I would favor? …Of course, Don’s! I regarded Don as an authority on the topic. Why wouldn’t I? Mattingly played MLB for years  with the Yankees and was always expected to pursue batting titles. He even hit a home run off of Nolan Ryan in his MLB leading eight consecutive games with a home run (Don hit 10HR during that stretch). Sorry dad!

My point for this article is this: it’s not that my dad didn’t know what he was talking about when it came to hitting a baseball; it’s that I didn’t perceive his input as authoritative, insightful, or as helpful as Mattingly’s. When you and I listen to people about the kingdom of God it’s natural to favor the input of those we deem authoritative.

Allow me to illustrate further. Today, there’s a knock at the door, and it’s someone passing out invitations to a religious event. I offer a business card as a reference to this site (TheAzureBlue.net) and they redirect the conversation toward their upcoming event. The impression made upon me was that those knocking had an objective to promote their own event rather than develop a conversation. I happen to think I know a little about the Bible so I suggested that this was tactically unwise, that this knocking at the door to offer invitations and avoid engaging individuals that might answer and have input, makes them appear exclusive and is counterproductive for them. The response I got was this “Well, what if Jesus knocked at your door? Would you just ignore the invitation to follow?” I replied “You aren’t Jesus.”

The exchange went on for a few more minutes while my eggs fried too much in the skillet. The conclusion was that I invited someone to revisit and study, and potentially have a fruitful discussion about the kingdom of God. The perception remains, though, that those knocking my door assumed that I should respect their stances on Biblical teachings because they were out inviting people to investigate their worldview. How has this proven productive? I’m not offended by their straightforward approach. In fact, it’s refreshing to have someone openly tell you what they think about Jesus. However, the issue becomes that it’s only what THEY think about Jesus, and you have no room to disagree…or have a discussion.

In our social media era people seem as if they’re desperate to be heard. They will also listen to those they feel have authoritative input.

When Jesus began His ministry people were seeing and hearing things that established Him as credible and authoritative. At Jesus’ baptism we read of the Spirit descending as a dove and the voice from heaven. We read of Jesus testing in the wilderness. We see Jesus heal. We see Jesus teach uniquely. We see Jesus control demonic activity. And, we see multitudes gathering to hear Him describe the expected kingdom of God. If you and I were sitting at a table listening to the teachings of Jesus and also the ones who knocked at my door today, whose teachings do you think I’d favor?  Hmmmm.

Should I learn something from this interaction today? Perhaps I might learn this: my own opinions or teachings matter very little to most people and can be easily ignored by people who may need them most. It’s not because I’m incorrect, don’t have insight or wisdom to share, or that I’m straightforward. Many times, it’s because they don’t perceive me to have credibility or authority in their minds. I’m not Jesus….and they know it.

My dad knew he was wiser than me when it came to hitting and that I couldn’t recognize that, because I was enamored with MLB players like Don Mattingly. It was dad (and mom) who planned the birthday surprise of going to Mattingly’s restaurant. I had and still have pretty amazing parents. However, my dad wasn’t jealous of my adoration of Don Mattingly as a hitter. He liked him, too. He wanted to hear what he had to say also. …I hope that my approach with my son is similar when it comes to the kingdom of God. There’s certainly a risk that he’ll get the impression that I think I’m authoritative when it comes to his faith if my tactic is only to get him to agree with me, but there’s a greater risk if he doesn’t see me trying to listen to the Jesus of the Bible. I’ll also need to be listening to those who do have credibility with their research and practice, and also be listening to him to know his heart.

If the exchange at the front door today was less one sided I’d have been happier to lose those fried eggs. I wanted to be heard! Even though they heard me say I was a minister it didn’t give them pause. People know we’re not Jesus either. Many don’t see us as superstars of the world or in the kingdom of God. How can we continue to find ways to become respectful and credible in the hearts and minds of others? The kingdom of God and the Jesus of the Bible should look better and better when we do.

What do you think?

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

6 replies »

  1. Why do we have to constantly look for either authoritative people (give us a king?) or people we can be authoritative upon (I know better than you)?
    Once I gave up on both approaches, I was able to learn, understand and discover on my own a whole lot more.
    So my approach is to be a Berean to those talking to me, and to share my worldview only when asked.
    (After all I’m not Jesus.)
    If anybody in this world needs to hear my convictions or me hear theirs, God will make our paths cross.

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    • Hello Robert, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think people live, plan, and operate on trust. I’m not aware of people trusting high school students to perform heart surgery. God is authoritative for man’s benefit (Mt 28:16-20). Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. Apostles are those sent with authority. Parents have been given authority by God for the benefit of their children. We can multiply biblical examples. 1 Samuel 8, which you referenced, illustrates the tribes of Israel’s need to recognize God as their King, who rules the nations. The Berean tested Paul’s apostolic authority by the authority of the OT Scriptures. Biblical authority is a vital topic in our era, as should be in all.

      Our paths are crossing. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

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      • Yeap, you’re spot on. The authority is God and the Bible, not humans even they may be right at times – and I only refer to spiritual matters.
        It is important to differentiate between trust and authority; too many times you’d see individuals getting their doctrines from people they trust rather than the ultimate authority.

        …and let them cross, it’s always a great experience 🙂

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  2. I think we and I mean me are so wanting to be heard, as you said they did, that we miss out on the good stuff…learning something valuable a different view point! Something new to ponder. Sadly, I wonder if what I have read on social media i.e. (FB) has given me just enough info to think I know more on lots of subjects…when I do not?!?! Hmmmm
    Good stuff, thanks for sharing. I do think you are an authority on teaching the bible! Blessings my friend

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  3. I think some of this boils down into our human nature to form, and stay in groups. Let me explain …

    I recently read (and in turn taught a lesson around it) an article about a human tendency to be blinded by what is called “The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight” — We essentially believe that we take into accounts other opinions, and celebrate diversity. The fact is, we actually don’t and we are (by human nature) driven to form groups. In these groups we believe certain things about other people, about the people in our groups, and we assume we know everyone around us better than they know us.

    In 2001 a study was done that proved this (well, actually a lot of studies have been done on this). People were shown pictures of icebergs with varying degrees of the ice sticking out of the water (thus the remainder being hidden). The people were asked “How much of your friends true nature do you think you see” — Most people answer very keen (IE: a lot of the ice berg sticking up out of the water). In turn when asked “How well do your friends know your true nature” — the answer was very low, as in most of the ice still being hidden under the water.

    This study went on to perform many other different social experiments, but at the end of the day it goes something like this: Most of us think we know other people better than they know us. And one step further, often we think we know them better than they know themselves.

    Other example of things that were asked were “when do you think you show your true self the most?” – or “When do you feel most like you?” — The answer generally was something that couldn’t really be observed from the outside. “I feel most like me when I watch my kids excel at something”, or “I feel most like me when I have alone time”. However when the question was flipped outwardly, the answers were generally something like “Jenny is most like Jenny when she’s shopping” or “Bob is most like Bob when talking about Cars” — This plays into the idea that we actually think we know A LOT more than we really do about the people and world around us.

    It all leads up to illogical conclusions. “If this person could just see things my way they would know!” — or more importantly “This person must have a tainted world view because they don’t see things the exact way I do!” — Now this isn’t to say there aren’t facts, right and wrong, and black and white issues that in fact can be made into a logical argument. This is more pointing to the human nature that we pretty much ignore those things and go straight to basing out arguments around others points of view . . not facts.

    My overall point is: I think this plays a big part into why we want to pin authority on others (either our own authority, or letting someone else have authority over us) – We believe that we know more than others around us . . . .but . . . .in turn they thing the exact same thing about us!

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