1 Jan 2002

Obedience and submission

Submitted by theshovel
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Hi Jim! Lately, i've been thinking and dealing personally with the concept of submitting to (usually male) elders/pastors and others. It's been brought to my attention, in the past and recently, that I am "not submitted" to any spiritual authority since I no longer "go to church." I am not as intimidated by this mention of my "lack of following God's Word" as i used to be, because my increasing awareness of the real life of Jesus in me. I think some of my/our ideas about submission (and obedience) have been bogus. anonymous

Hello, my dear brother!

Ah yes, the submission resistance of those outside the confines of the supposed legitimate church!! Obedience sure is a whacked out of proportion concept, too. Funny thing is that you never seem to hear this definition from the Hebrew words translated as "obey":

1) to hear, listen to, obey
a) (Qal)

1) to hear (perceive by ear)
2) to hear of or concerning
3) to hear (have power to hear)
4) to hear with attention or interest, listen to
5) to understand (language)
6) to hear (of judicial cases)
7) to listen, give heed
a) to consent, agree
b) to grant request
8) to listen to, yield to
9) to obey, be obedient
b) (Niphal)

1) to be heard (of voice or sound)
2) to be heard of
3) to be regarded, be obeyed
c) (Piel) to cause to hear, call to hear, summon
d) (Hiphil)

1) to cause to hear, tell, proclaim, utter a sound
2) to sound aloud (musical term)
3) to make proclamation, summon
4) to cause to be heard

And then the Greek:

1) to listen, to harken
a) of one who on the knock at the door comes to listen who it is,
(the duty of a porter)
2) to harken to a command
a) to obey, be obedient to, submit to

Geez, with the overwhelming reference to the words hear and listen it seems that somebody would have mentioned it, don't you think? See, at one time we could not hear His voice because we had not the ears to hear, we heard that which pertained to the world. But now, in Christ, we have been given those ears to hear ... which means we harken to God.

Now, submit is translated so:

1) to arrange under, to subordinate
2) to subject, put in subjection
3) to subject one's self, obey
4) to submit to one's control
5) to yield to one's admonition or advice
6) to obey, be subject

A Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

Now, if we consider these meanings in view of still being under law, and therefore subject to the very principles of the world, able only to hear the spirit of this world, then we might settle for the usual sense found in those who need to be conquered and forced into submission. But knowing that we have been set free from the bondage of the world and made to hear in Christ then it makes no difference whether we use the military or non-military version of the word. For the simplicity of arranging oneself under the true authority of God would be the recognition of our true selves made alive in Christ. Like Paul had written of no longer knowing (or recognizing) according to the old, dead existence, but only seeing ourselves (arranging ourselves) in view of the new creation.

To submit to one another, as Paul wrote, was entirely embedded within the reality of being made alive together in Christ. To submit to those who lead in Christ also takes into account the topsy-turvy twist Jesus stated about those who would be the leaders: they would be the greatest servants. In other words, the leaders believers were encouraged to take heed to were not those who occupied positions, but were those who had been recognized as simply ministering to the needs of others above their own selves. Of course, these were the people who were truly seeing themselves and each other according to the new creation, not according to appearances.

Neither Paul nor Peter were advocates of the submission to authority that is so heavily preached today. When certain men had been recognized as being determined to view those around them only according to Christ then Paul went out of his way to point them out to the others because they would not have been recognized according to the factor of appearance. These are those who truly care for you, is the message he made, and to listen to their thoughts and counsel will encourage and strengthen you in this new life. Give extra consideration to what they say and do because it comes from the perspective of the true life that is in those made alive in Christ. This submission was a willingness to give serious consideration to those who demanded that you were just as alive and holy and righteous and justified and sanctified and in union to God as they were! A far cry from what we have been taught by the religious system, isn't it? :)

Love, Jim

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