SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY
We all know that in the service of the Body the first thing is coordination, and the second thing is authority. Some people think that authority pertains to only a few, such as apostles or elders—special kinds of people with authority. However, this is not the authority we refer to. We are referring to the authority in the Body. On the one hand, the head is the only authority of all the members of our physical body. Besides the head, no other member can exercise authority over the other members. On the other hand, every member has a member to which it submits, and at the same time every member also exercises authority over some other members. A hand has to submit to the authority of the arm, and at the same time this hand is also the authority over many fingers. Therefore, the fingers are under the authority of the hand, the hand is under the authority of the arm, and the arm is under the authority of the shoulder. However, the shoulder can only be the authority to the arms, the hands, and the fingers. It has no way to be the authority to the legs. It is the same way in the service in the Body of Christ.
Knowing Our Position
If we have been dealt with properly before the Lord and have properly learned our position, we will know who is before us as our authority and who is behind us—the ones to whom we are the authority. In a family with five siblings, does the family have to vote for someone to be the eldest brother, the second, and so on? There is no need to vote to see who is to be the oldest brother or who is to be the second. When we are placed among the brothers and sisters, immediately we know our seniority and position among them.
The life of the Lord is not an individualistic life but the Body life. In God’s ordination we are all members. Since we are members, we cannot escape being in coordination with others. Since we are in the coordination, how can there not be someone over us as our authority? Suppose an arm says, “The body imprisons me. I would like to escape so that I will not have to submit to its authority.” If this arm escapes, it will surely die. You may feel comfortable if I shook your hand. However, if I cut off my hand and placed it on you, would you feel so comfortable? When a member is severed from the body, it becomes something dreadful and becomes altogether useless.
The Proper Service in Coordination— Having No Self and Not Being Independent
As Christians in the Body we should know who is our authority. When we are serving in the church, there are some brothers and sisters whom we may not have to take heed to, but there are others whom we cannot disregard. The hand may contend with the ear and the nose. As a matter of fact, it may argue with almost any member and still be all right, but there is one member with whom it may not dispute—the arm. Once it has a conflict or a dispute with the arm, it is finished. Who is our authority? Others cannot decide for us. We know it in our heart. Once we know who our authority is, we have no choice but to submit. Perhaps two brothers who are neither elders nor deacons are our authority. We still have to submit to them. This is the authority in the coordination of the church service. The greatest problem in the church is our independence. The requirement in the church service is coordination. Therefore, in the church service we should not be in the self, nor should we be independent. Only then can we have normal service in coordination.
(Being Apt to Teach and Holding the Mystery of the Faith, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)