We are all called by God to be joined in relationship with others. God has called each of us to be joined to the lives of others as active contributors to the expressions of Christ’s body upon the earth. God wants each body member to be comparable, not competitive. When something is comparable it is similar to or equivalent to, but it is uniquely different. It is not competitive with joining members, but comparable in purpose, ability, and destiny. There is no test or challenge of ability of joining members towards one another. There is no rivalry to attain to the same measure in life. God has given a sphere of influence to each member of His body and there is not a limited environmental resource for individual members. Each member contributes to others and thus the expression is one of corporate blessing attained through individual contributions. This is the testimony of a living body. Compatibility only works through submission of each member to another in giving life to one another according to their God-given expression of authority; it is a matter of submission. Relationships live through the life flow of submission. Submission is the cement of relationship.
Ephesians 5:17-21 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.
Submission is the essence of giving life to another. It is the opposite of seeking self. It is the life of God’s Spirit that gives life to our joining relationships. The psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that God wants us to release to one another are simply the sound and substance of life. God doesn’t want us to be religious, He want us to be relational. Our hearts must be alive toward God and toward one another. The testimony of our lives is like contributing notes to the song of life in others. Like music, it is a sound of submission. By ourselves we are notes, but together we create a song of life.
James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
If we seek our own interests, we are not in submission. Every time we seek self, we are out of submission. When we seek self we affect the Body of Christ. We are not your own. We belong to Jesus and the Body of Christ. Submission is seeking someone else. Not for their approval, but to serve them and to make them larger! When a wife submits to her husband she is seeking to bring liberty and freedom to her husband. When a husband submits to his wife he is seeking to bring liberty and freedom to his wife. Submission is functioning in what we do for another’s purpose, or for the corporate purpose of the two. The wisdom from above always works towards submission. It never focuses on self. God’s wisdom always contains a willingness to yield to others. God’s wisdom always contains the need for relational connections to others. Submission is an attitude that inspires actions of living for the well-being of others.
The body of Christ is created for submission in order for proper function, just like our own physical bodies. Many members work together to give life to the body.
1 Corinthians 12:14-25 For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
When the members of our natural body seek to live for themselves it is called cancer or some other debilitating disease. When our body members work in harmony with one another it is a testimony of relational submission and it brings life to every member of our body. When we are in submission we each are able to do our share. This is the testimony of a healthy body with functioning members that are comparable to one another. The diverse members of our body are compatible to one another, but unique in their own function. Each body member lives to contribute life to the body.
Ephesians 4:15,16 …but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Submission has to do with compatibility and self-seeking has to do with competition. When we seek our own interests, our own way, our own desires, or anything that is in our personal interest we aren’t putting ourselves in a position to be comparable or compatible to others. In order to be compatible we must be willing to submit to the authority, power, or desires of another. To be comparable is to be equal in value, but yielded in function. To yield your function is to submit your function for the greater function of the whole.
To live in submission we must position ourselves in relationship with others in a comparable way for the greater purpose of corporate destiny. Control is competitive. Submission is comparable. Where there is competition there is no submission. Without submission there cannot be authority. Self-seeking is always competitive. To be comparable means, ‘mine fits with yours and yours fits with mine’. My house is your house and your house is my house.
Where there is competition there is rebellion. Where there is competition there is self-seeking. Where there is competition there isn’t any authority. When we are comparable to one another we become a supply of life to one another. This is the testimony of relational authority.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson