Text: Matthew 21:23-32
Upper west side balcony dwellers, I have a question for you this morning. That’s you, Pullen youth. Here’s the question: “Who do you listen to as a voice of authority?” Is it your parents? Teachers? Friends? Police? Youth Minister? Church? Another way for me to ask you this question is, “Who gets your attention when it comes to matters of importance?” For instance: everyone agrees that cheating on a test or graded assignment is wrong yet it happens constantly. Who in your life would you most listen to when it came to asking you not to cheat? Your parents? One of your friends? Laura? If someone you like or you are dating is not good for you, or a certain crowd of friends you’re hanging out with is changing you, and not for the better whose advice might you be willing to listen to? There’s a lot of pressure around body image for you guys—both for girls and boys—to be skinny and pretty and strong and handsome. Who are you listening to these days about body image? Your friends? Social media? TV ads?
I’ve been thinking about how many people you have in your lives who assume some kind of authority. For sure, your parents do. They hold quite a bit of authority over many areas of your life. When your curfew is, to some degree who your friends are, what kind of movies you see, and the list continues. Your teachers have a certain amount of authority when it comes to school work and what is required of you at school. Law enforcement has authority in your life—and I know for a fact some of you have tested that authority. I know your friends have some authority in your life—if for no other reason than you want to fit in and be liked. I would like to think that Laura and your church sometimes gets your attention on matters of importance but I don’t know if you see that as authority.
When I ask you who you listen to as a voice of authority, I’m wondering more about how you decide who you give authority to. What are the characteristics or what is the character of a person you deem to have the voice of authority? Is it that they have some kind of power over you? That they can punish you if you don’t do what they say? Or is it something else; like the way or manner in which they speak to you, or an experience that they have had that you value, or is it that their actions match their words.