Anarchism is first and foremost about the theory and practice of individual freedom. While this freedom is complete, it is not a license to disregard the right of others to their freedom. A primal reason why a lot of people cannot begin to understand this freedom is because they are afraid, like me, to exercise it fully and responsibly. (We all like sheep have gone astray, Is 53:6).
I believe that one of the main reasons Jesus came to earth was to empower us to exercise our own freedom and authority. As free agents we are imbued with the authority to live out our own lives in the way and the manner in which we see fit (again careful to not do so arrogantly and without regard for others). Our authority comes from God, not men. We are not given rights by the State, but have them intrinsically from God. Most of us, and surprisingly most Christians, are woefully unaware of our own authority.
Even the religious elite of Jesus’ day had no idea of this anarchistic authority embedded in the souls of each human. “While Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the experts in the law, and the elders came up to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do these things?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: John’s baptism – was it from heaven or from people? Answer me.” They discussed with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From people – ’” (they feared the crowd, for they all considered John to be truly a prophet). So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Mk 11:27-33).
Since we are not able to grasp the reality of our own freedom and authority, Jesus, in the Great Commission, commissioned his followers to exercise their God-given authority and then to set the world free to do the same. Most sermons or commentaries on the Great Commission focus on the mission, rather than the commissioning. But it is in the commissioning that Jesus reminds his followers of their inherited authority from God. The key word in the text in this regard is Therefore [with the implied you]. “Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations …” (Mt 28:18-19a, NET).
After Jesus ascended to heaven and the Spirit came to empower (give authority), the apostles became bold in their witness of Jesus the Anarchist and the Commonweal of Love. They agitated against the Domination Systems of their day and were soon afterwards arrested. “The high priest questioned [the apostles] saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!’ But Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than people’” (Ac 5:27-29, NET). Too often today, Christians worship the Domination Systems of Religion and the State instead of living in obedience to God alone.
Anti-Sophist, a blogger friend of mine introduced me to the term Statetheist. He said in a comment on this blog, that it is not just Christians, but Atheists as well, who worship the State and its authority as a god.
In his virtually unknown classic The Authority of the Believer, missionary John A. MacMillan explains how Christians are woefully under-informed about their intrinsic authority over spiritual evil (powers and principalities in the heavenly realms and on earth). MacMillan says that, “the kingdoms of this world are under the control and leadership of satanic principalities” (1980: 18). MacMillan later says that believers in Christ have authority over these principalities: “… the wisdom and will of the Father have made us sharers of this same authority, and that He verily intends that we should exercise it day by day in growing comprehension and apprehension” (1980:25).
Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, the Spirit of God is now made available to all people. Therefore, we can exercise our own authority because of the Spirit who bears the fruit of love, peace, and self-control in each of us (Ga 5:22-23).
Nevertheless, voluntary association with other Christ-followers in anarchistic solidarity will only empower us more to live freely. This voluntary association also means voluntary accountability. We should in our own authority want to be in association with and accountable to others, not in order to conform to others but, because we are finite and limited beings.
MacMillan, John A (1980). The Authority of the Believer. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications.
© Pablo de la Paz, 2016