"A man set under authority"

[Of Special Interest to Youth]

MUCH is heard on the subject of authority in these days of war. We speak of military authority, of naval authority, of the authority of the government to tell us to do this, or not to do that, and we submit willingly to this dictation, knowing that it is for our protection and safety. Nevertheless, as Christian Scientists, we need to keep ever clearly in thought the distinction between that human jurisdiction represented by our government and its various agencies and the supreme authority of the Ruler of the universe, whose beneficent law eternally governs all men impartially and righteously.

An illuminating incident in the Bible illustrates this very point. In the seventh chapter of Luke's Gospel occurs the story of the Roman centurion who called upon the Master to come and heal his servant. While Jesus was on his way to the house, the centurion sent him this significant message: "Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one. Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it."

What was it in these words that made the Master marvel and exclaim to the people who followed him, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel"? At first glance the words seem contradictory, and one wonders why a man accustomed to ordering soldiers to do this or that would feel unworthy to appraoch Jesus. But the Master recognized in the centurion's thought an extraordinary humility. "I also am a man set under authority," said the soldier. This was a recognition that the one whom we call Master was also under authority, under the final authority of God alone. Might it not also have been a conscious acknowledgment that the jurisdiction of this supreme authority is universal and everywhere operative? The centurion, bowing before a superior authority—the omnipresence of God's government—realized that it was not necessary for Jesus to come to his house in person in order to heal the sick servant. "Say in a word [declare the might and supremacy of God's law], and my servant shall be healed." "And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick," the story joyously concludes.

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As Thou Hast Made
October 28, 1944

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