Have you ever, or should I rephrase, how many times have you asked a child “Why don’t you listen to me?” They actually have no problem hearing what we’re saying, they just struggle with submitting to our instructions. The truth is we all struggle. In fact, we have struggled on this earth since the first sin. We’re definitely not perfect. So, what’s the use in continuing to live with strife? Wouldn’t it be easier to just go off the grid and live as hermits? What we need to remember is that we’re not created to go it alone. We have in our very DNA a need for fellowship. Therefore, we also have an inherit need to learn from others how to get along and, together, fulfil our purpose for being created in the first place – our commission, if you will.
So, from whom do we learn? That’s the question. Are there any good examples out there worthy of emulating? Well, Peter, who knows something about doing things the wrong way, finally gets it right. In the very first days of the church, Peter yields to the power of the Holy Spirit. And, in this power, many are gathered as saints into the family of God. As a direct result, these new family members now devote/submit themselves to the apostles’ teaching.
Thankfully, the church provides many examples of people we can emulate. In our teaching on Sunday at Flatland, we learned about the otherwise overlooked family of Stephanus. This family devoted their lives to the service of the church – our God-given commission. We may easily overlook this family as we’re reading from one passage to the next. And if so, we almost certainly overlook the word “submit”. As Paul was an Apostle to the Gentiles, he wrote primarily in Greek, and the original Greek interpretation of submit in this context is to subordinate oneself; to “listen” (obey), as a child should obey one’s parents. In this way of submission to church elders, we’re not weakened in any way. On the contrary, we actually grow stronger and become mature in faith. Let’s face it, the world is loud and we can’t help but hear their messages. The good news we don’t have to “listen to” (obey) these voices leading us astray, when we have a host of saints/family who are cheering us on to eternal victory in Christ.
The Fellowship of the Believers
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42 NIV