John 13:36-38

In The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches, A.W. Tozer writes:

The present position of Christ in the churches may be likened to that of a king in a limited, constitutional monarchy. The king is in such a country no more than a traditional rallying point, a pleasant symbol of unity and loyalty much like a flag or a national anthem. He is lauded and supported, but his real authority is small. In every crisis someone else makes the decisions.

Chances are that if Tozer made the rounds these days, visiting a variety of congregations to read this paragraph aloud, most would declare that he wasn’t writing about them. But if he read these thoughts to Peter, the disciple might flinch and remember his encounter with Jesus in today’s verses. We don’t always see ourselves accurately. We have good intentions about becoming who we want to be, but we have yet to arrive there. And sometimes those on the outside see clearly that not only do we have a long way to go, but we may be heading in the wrong direction entirely.

The grace in this text comes when Jesus adds “but you will follow afterward” (v. 36). The hope in Tozer’s words comes when we honestly acknowledge “the present position of Christ in the churches” (emphasis mine) and realize that it doesn’t have to be our future or final state. Christ’s authority outsizes any limits or controls we place on it. Sooner or later we come to grips with the truth that we are not the authority figures of our spiritual lives. Ultimately, we will not be limited by our cravings for control or our fears about following the One who is greater. Christ sees better possibilities for all of us. At some point we will see those too. 


In what ways do you limit Christ’s authority in your life?


God, help us understand our own limitations so that we will follow you more honestly and devotedly. Amen.

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