The life flow of submission flows within the boundaries of authority. Authority is not a matter of control. It is not a matter of value. It is simply a matter of the order of things and when things are in their divinely arranged order the life substance of authority flows through the avenue of submission. Authority is not a matter of doing the right thing; it is a matter of knowing who you are so that you can be empowered to do all things. The prophet John proclaimed a message that prepared God’s people for receiving the authority of life restored to all men through the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Luke 3:4-14 …as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; and the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
John the Baptist was preparing the way for the Lord. His message was a call to the need for true authority. His message didn’t give them restored authority, it merely pointed to the flaw in their relationships. It revealed their need for the true authority of life that comes through the redemption given through the blood of Jesus Christ. It revealed their need to be reconciled to the source of authority. Notice that in verse 10 the people asked, “What shall we do then?”
Those who John spoke to were like all people. Their question was a question of doing, not one of being. People desire to do, before they desire to obey. John’s answer was to simply live lives according to who they were. It was not about the sacrifices of doing. It was about merely being obedient to God within the boundaries of who they were. It wasn’t a great sacrifice; it was simply a matter of living their lives according to what they should be doing. It’s not like we need to ask what to do. There is always plenty to do. Knowing who we are will empower us to do whatever we need to do in life. Authority that comes through submission is the authority that comes from being responsible in life to live life for the sake of giving life to others.
Authority is based upon our response-ability, not our ability. Each of us must carry our share. If we carry our share, we will do our share. People who are in submission are already walking in authority. Those are the ones who will receive increased authority, because they are already being faithful with what has been given to them. People who want authority generally have a problem with submission, but people who live life as responsible people in connection with others end up being people of great authority. Jesus was such a man. He demonstrated His authority when He was obedient unto death. Jesus became Lord of lords and King of kings by submitting to His Father’s will and serving in His house. Knowing who He was that empowered Him to live in submission. It was a matter of relationship with His Father, not an obligation to obey.
How do we know whom we are to submit to? The key is relationship. Where do you relate? It’s not where do you want to relate? It’s where has God placed you? What are your responsibilities? Because of a lack of relationship Saul failed in his submission and forfeited His authority. Because of a lack of relationship Saul used his own reasoning to justify his own understanding of obedience.
We must be who we are. When my body parts submit to one another my body functions with authority. The testimony is a living body is made of many functioning members. There is a freedom of life that comes through being joined with others in the process of life. Freedom is not the liberty to do our own thing. True freedom comes by becoming part of something that is greater than us. True freedom comes through living in relational submission with others.
Authority is a process. There is a continual progression in the process of authority in our lives. Authority comes through faith and patience. When we are faithful in who we are we grow in the process of becoming all we are meant to be. It is a matter of faith to move forward and patience to remain faithful in each moment of each day.
Authority is delegated power. Delegated power is power that flows through the connections of relationship with others. Delegated power gives life to others. Power that is taken produces death, but power that is divinely given brings life to those who are connected to your life. Authority comes from submission. It is not over others or God. Power taken from others is illegitimate authority, but power given through divinely connected relationships brings life and is the legitimate power of life.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson