John Bennett, Pinxton, Nottingham [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
‘Submit yourselves therefore to God’, James 4. 7.
I was never a very good swimmer. In fact, I would be reluctant to venture outside of the comparative safety of a swimming pool. However, one thing I noticed, as I watched my children grow into strong swimmers, was the difference made by tidal forces. It is difficult to swim against the tide, even for the strongest!
If that fact is true in the physical realm, it is just a true in the spiritual. Yet, that is what the believer is asked to do on a daily basis. The world trumpets the rights of the individual. Indeed, a numerically insignificant group has pressed its ‘rights’ to such an extent that it has moved governments, and is seeking to move societal opinion, to accept its practices as ‘normal’. Against that background, the believer is commanded to be submissive. That attitude of submission applies across a range of contexts: to God, as in our verse; younger people to older people; 1 wives to husbands; 2 each of us to the elders in the assembly; 3 each of us to fellow workers; 4 and each of us to the governmental and legal authorities. 5
I am sure we would all admit that this subjection does not come naturally. In contrast, we are more likely to defend our ‘right’ to be consulted, to have our say, than to accept that God has ordained ‘the powers that be’, 6 whether they be national governments or local elders. To rebel against such rule is to set ourselves in opposition to those whom God has established. Whilst scripture does tell us of a legitimate precedent, 7 it is dangerous territory – not an area to be ventured into lightly! Yet, many of us can foresee the time when what the government has legislated and established and society has accepted will bring believers into the spotlight of persecution. What, then, should be our decision?
We all need to remind ourselves of the responsibility that we have to live by the biblical pattern. In so doing, we bear testimony to our faith, and the God whom we serve. We also contribute to the harmony and fruitful testimony of local churches. In all these things, we bring honour and glory to our God. Submission will never be easy, but the value of such an attitude and behaviour is immeasurable!
As we enter the 71st year of the magazine, we are making some changes. Apart from one or two design changes, we are replacing the centre pages expository article with a new series of biblical charts. To accompany these we have an introduction to the book that features in the chart. Our histories and services pages will be replaced with an occasional section detailing the Lord’s work in one area of mission work abroad. Conscious that we live in a world dominated with up-to-the-minute methods of communication, we are also making changes to the Reports Section. However, we continue to seek to provide that which will encourage and edify the Lord’s people.
1 1 Pet. 5. 5
2 Eph. 5. 22; Col. 3. 18
3 Heb. 13. 17
4 1 Cor. 16. 16
5 1 Pet. 2. 13
6 Rom. 13. 1
7 Acts 4. 19