starting place


I wish I could say that I get better with directions as I get older…I wish I could say that. Since moving to St. Thomas I have taken the 401 more than once to get to Sarnia. Last summer I visited a pastor bro in Toronto and like Bugs Bunny I must have taken a left turn at Albuquerque coming back. I ended up close to Niagara Falls. I had the tunes up, the window down, and my mind was thinking…but not about where I was going. I often get messed up in my driving when I don’t start at point A to get to point B on my map. I come in part way through on my directions and that causes me to get off course.

We live in a culture of confusion and unfortunately it’s true in church world, more than we care to admit and it has a lot to do with our starting place. Take authority and submission in relationships for example. We usually start part way through and read the passages that talk about it in human relationships and we have our doubts because it doesn’t look like our world or we try to rework the texts to make them more culture-friendly. I believe whole-heartedly to understand submission and authority we need to go all the way back to the starting point… to God.

Books have been written about this but I’m gonna try my best to summarize some of the key passages. We know that there are three members of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit (Matthew 28:19)…but you’ll also find an authority/submission structure. We can see that in the relationship of the Father and the Son.

[28] So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. [29] And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (John 8:28-29 ESV)

So within the Godhead we see Jesus, although He is equal to the Father, we see Him submitting to the Father…like all the time.  And just a few verse before (John 8:23) Jesus is claiming to be God. So the second member of the Trinity submitting to the first member and it’s pretty clear in John 6, as well.

[38] For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38 ESV)

We see that loud and clear in the Garden of Gethsemane:

[38] Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” [39] And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:38-39 ESV)

Later on we find out that the Son loves the Father:

[31] but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father...(John 14:31 ESV)

And then we find out that Jesus actually enjoyed following through on doing God’s will:

[34] Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:34 ESV)

So track with me if you will. Jesus is an equal member of the Trinity but He submitted to the Father and stuck to the Father’s will. He loves the Father and He’s pretty happy to be doing the Father’s will and submitting to it. This is to be true in human relationships. We are all equals before God (Galatians 3:28) but we have different roles and responsibilities to carry out and love is to be present in those relationships. Wow!

Authority and submission in the Godhead is foundational for the other relationships that the Bible talks about: elders and the flock, husbands and wives, children and their parents, even bosses and employees in the workplace (Ephesians 5:22-6:9, 1 Peter 5:1-4). And all of those relationships work better when those in authority and those in submission realize that in those roles we are all ultimately under the authority of God.

I know authority and submission can be hard but if we dig deeper into the Trinity we have great direction in how it’s suppose to work. May we all mature in our ability to follow, by God’s great grace.


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