SUBMITTING TO THE AUTHORITY
IN THE BODY OF CHRIST
Submission Bringing In Benefits
The first thing we have to see concerning coordination is God’s arrangement in the church (see 1 Cor. 12). In 1 Corinthians 12, coordination is a Body matter. If you hit me with your hands, you are offending my head. For anyone to offend the Body of the Lord is to offend the Lord. We have to realize that those brothers and sisters ahead of us have their authority. We should know and realize this authority. If we know this, we will see that nothing is more serious than offending God’s authorities on earth. A brother who causes such an offense can never serve the Lord. One member cannot become angry with another member or be separated from another member. If one member is separated from the other members, and if he refuses to receive the supply from others, he will become isolated. Some older brothers and sisters are ahead of us; they have much more knowledge concerning the Lord than we do. The other members should therefore receive their supply from these ones. But many people feel that to submit to them is very difficult. However, you have to realize that they are a help to you. They render you the supply and enable you to fulfill your ministry. The arm receives blood for the hand. The members ahead of us receive supply for the benefit of the other members. The work may be done by the hand, but the supply comes from the arm. The Body is not merely an illustration, but a fact. If the arm is gone, the hand cannot work even if it has the capacity to do so. The arms should not try to be the hands, and the hands should not try to be the arms. Here we see the Body in its many different levels, with each member having its own work that it ought to do. This is not an organization. Rather, this is something organic.
without Any Choice of Your Own
If I hit you or kick you, who is it that is hitting or kicking you? Is it my members that are doing it, or am I the one who is doing it? For my members to do it is for my whole body to do it. Consider the action of sweeping the floor; it is not the work of one member, but the work of the whole body. The blood in my whole body supplies the member that is doing the work. The body is organic. When the hands, the feet, or the face is in motion, the blood in the whole body directs its supply to these working members. There is the need on the one hand to submit to authority, and on the other hand for others to submit to you. It is difficult to submit to authority. It is more difficult to have others submit to you. You must first be dealt with yourself, and you must first learn to listen to others, before others will listen to you and submit to you. Those who are rebellious cannot expect others to listen to them. I know one sister who has changed maids twelve times. Every time she changed maids, it was because she could not tolerate the maid. What this sister has done was a proof that she has never learned the lesson of listening to others. I am afraid that when such people come to serve in the church, they will cause problems. This is like your mother asking you to buy her some sugar and ginger, and you keep the sugar, while giving her only the ginger. This is the way many people obey God; their obedience is a selective obedience. If I receive the order to buy ginger, I only need to obey and to buy it.
Obedience and Listening to Others
Bringing In Blessing
Let me ask you: if it is not enough that we listen only to the Lord’s word, how then should we listen to man’s word? Whose word should we listen to? Perhaps you will say that we should listen to those whom we trust and love. But this is wrong. We should not be selective in our listening.
If there is a group of people here who are willing to listen, this place will experience a big change; Swatow will see thousands of people saved. If the window is open, the sunshine will come in. There may be clouds today. But tomorrow or the day after, blessing will come. Here the older ones listen to the younger ones, and the younger ones listen to the older ones. To listen to others means to be related together in the Body. If we talk about mutuality day after day, yet never listen to others, the coordination of the Body will be but an empty term. We may not be fighting with one another, but neither are we coordinated together. Men on the streets do not fight with each other day after day, yet there is absolutely no coordination or relatedness among them. The book of Acts shows us that there is no such thing as serving the Lord alone. Service is something in the Body. In Acts Paul charged Timothy to come and go; he did not leave any ground for Timothy to pray or to seek for God’s will. Many people are very capable in the church, yet this is not necessarily a good thing. In the coordination of the Body, we need to work by listening to others. If you want to open the window, you have to check first with the responsible brothers. If you want to close the window, you also have to check with the responsible brothers. A good work is one that is done through fellowship and in coordination.
In the church in Shanghai, we have an elders’ meeting once a week. Everything is decided by the elders. I admit that during the past year, many things were first proposed by me. But when it comes to making a decision in one accord, I also put myself as one among those who are under orders. This is how we handle everything, including affairs such as the service office record-keeping, and the receiving of saints for fellowship. Here we see no dictatorship or usurpation of authority. All the brothers and sisters can put forth their views and suggestions, and all can go on in the Body.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 31, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)