Okay, I had an epic fail over the weekend. Due to a remodel of my daughter’s bedroom, her 9th birthday party, a motorcycle ride with my husband and church friends, and multiple church commitments, I failed to post over the weekend. However, I will be making them all up today, so be prepared for several post throughout the day.
Last week we were talking about submission. More specifically, we were trying to define biblical submission and, in doing so, we were looking at all areas we are called to submit. We discussed God not only calls women to submit to their husbands, but each of us is to submit and serve each other (servant submission). Furthermore, we discussed how we are called to submit to the laws of our land and the authority God has ordained (lawful submission/authoritative submission). Today we will examine both church and Godly submission.
Church Submission/Godly Submission
Like we talked about Thursday, we are called to submit to the laws of land; however, I feel like I did a disservice to you all by not pointing out that we are to submit to the law or our governing authorities unless it is in contrast to God. As I mentioned in previous posts, there is hierarchy in almost everything we do and our belief system is no different. God is the absolute. He is the top of the pyramid. No one can trump God. I don’t think this come as a surprise to anyone. We are called to submit to the authority of God. Plain and simple; no if and buts about it.
1 Corinthians 11:3-God is the head of every man.
Acts 5:29-Must obey God rather than men.
In addition, churches their own system of hierarchies (Pastors, Preacher, Brothers, Elders, Deacons, board members, etc). This is a biblical concept based on God as the top of the pyramid:
Ephesians 5:23-Christ is the head of the church.
Now, some people get really upset with the idea of submitting to church authorities. Some believe that submitting means the other party is somehow better than them. I would say those people have a skewed belief system. The Bible clearly shows that we are to submit or fall under the authority of others in the church; however, it is just as true that the Bible is filled with scriptures warning us of the dangers of following man before God and how these leaders are to be servants and not dictators.
Ephesians 5:1-5 is a great example for it instructs us to follow our church authority while at the same time instructing that same authority about leading by serving. It also references humbleness, which I believe is the key to submitting:
And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: 2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. 4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
5 In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”[a] 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.
God clearly intended for his church to have order. This order was not to favor one child over the other, but to have each child working in his or her own ministry (where gifted), in so much as each body part is doing their own job in order for the body to function properly.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT): Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Submitting/Yielding/Obeying Church Leadership scriptures:
1 Timothy 5:17 (NLT): 7 Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well,[e] especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”[f] 19 Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses.
1 Thes. 5:12(NLT): Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. 13 Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.
Hebrew 13:17 (NLT): Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
God goes a step further giving specific instructions for church leaders to lead through serving and cautions us on basing our leadership on the leadership of the world:
Matthew 20:25-27 (NLT): But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
God also addresses excess of reverence. We must always remember the hierarchy. God is top dog and we all pale in comparison:
Matthew 23:8 (NLT): “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.[d] 9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Some leaders do abuse their authority. Many churches are now run like a dictatorship. I do not think God ever intended for the “church” to be taken out of the decision-making process:
Acts 15:22(NLT): Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision.
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT): 0 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters,[c] by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
It is also true that God calls us to test everyone who claims to speak for God. We are not to blindly trust, but to test everyone and every word against the word of God:
1 John 4:1 (NLT): Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
Like I said above, this is true; however, I have seen this also abused. There are just some people who are never going to be happy with any leadership and we must be careful. While I have heard 1 John 4 many times, I rarely hear what comes after:
1 John 4:2-3 (NLT): This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet[a] acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
Just because we don’t agree with someone in leadership does not make them a false prophet. God has placed these people in authority over us to guide, nurture and lead us to become the people we are called to be. These people are not perfect. They will make mistakes. We must be willing to extend grace and when necessary follow the biblical steps found in Matthew 18:15-20 and 1 Timothy 5:19 to resolve any disputes.
I truly believe it is imperative to our understanding of submission to truly grasp the hierarchy and humbleness concepts. Ladies, we can submit to our husbands without being second class citizens. We submit to authorities all the time, why is this one any different? There is even a hierarchy when it comes to the Trinity. The Son and Holy Spirit both fall under the submission of the Father and each one is a different part of the body and each one has their own ministry or function. It works because all are content with and understand their own roles.
Okay, that was easiest enough, stay tuned…..more to come today.