NOTE TO TEACHERS: The following lesson deals with the recent devastating fires in California. If you live in an area that was affected by this tragedy, you will know best how to handle this sensitive issue.
In the last few years, California has experienced numerous destructive wildfires that have burned homes and land alike. Any time something of this nature happens, people want to know who is responsible. Investigations are long and involved; sometimes, those questions never get fully answered. Two possible fire starters could occur at the same time (such as a lightning strike and a downed power line) making it impossible to determine the key factor. Nature itself in the form of rain and floods, etc. can wash away important DNA and other forensic evidence. But we still try to follow the trail and question who had the final authority over the situation and how it was handled.
Share the following video clip with your students [2:25]:
Did PG&E Cause the Dixie Fire??
When you are finished, discuss the following questions with your class:
The newscaster did not mention the cause the fire, likely because it is still being investigated. The fire could have been started as an intentional act of arson, or it could have been started by a lightning strike.
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) failed to cut down a dangerous tree near the electric lines—a major safety violation. People questioned PG&E’s authority to break the law and make a negligent decision with devastating results.
- If you had been affected by PG&E’s decisions, would you have questioned their authority to make such impactful decisions? Why or why not? (Answers will vary.)
- Is challenging authority a matter of individual personality—or a universal tendency? (Most people, even the compliant ones, will admit a desire to control their own lives. There are, however, some people who have a stronger bent toward rebellion.)
- In what ways do you see society encouraging attitudes of rebellion? (Answers will vary but may include TV shows that feature children being sarcastic or disrespectful to their parents; attitudes that suggest calling parents by their first name or ignoring parents’ wishes are desired qualities of individualism or healthy self-esteem; young people see parents and other adults being disrespectful or rebellious toward people in authority such as police officers, an employer, or the president, etc.)
- When someone is in charge over us, are we an equal? (Allow students to express their thoughts freely without commenting on their opinions.)
- Why is it so hard to submit to others’ authority? (Answers will vary.)
Being under authority isn’t easy. People get frustrated—even angry—with decisions they have no control over. When human error is a factor, it makes it even harder to submit. But God never makes mistakes. Even though God gives us the free will to control our actions, He established a hierarchy of authority—and He is the ultimate authority. Let’s examine what Jesus said about who’s in charge, and in the process, understand our role in God’s story.