so much of the Christian life involves submission. submission is something we’ve talked about in our married couples bible study, mainly in the context that wives are to submit to their husbands (ephesians 5:22). i cringe when i hear that, and i’m sure most of our society does too. we think it means that women are inferior to men, or less educated or qualified or strong or ________.
submission gets a bad rap.
and it’s a shame, because submission is an honor. submission allows us to fulfill our role as servant. submission allows us to examine our lives and properly aim our focus. when i was in college my youth pastor described submission as an act of “getting underneath or behind” something and pushing it up or forward. like setting a propeller in motion. it is exhausting work, but when you submit, you slowly begin to transfom into God’s likeness.
relationally, the young should submit to their elders, children should submit to their parents, parents to their children. wives should submit to their husbands – yes – but spouses should also submit to each other (ephesians 5:21). and we of course are to submit to Christ. we “get behind” His people and support them, the marginalized and otherwise, which in turn propels and glorifies His work on earth.
in celebration of discipline (gotta love books from the 70′s), richard foster names submission as a core [Christian] discipline. listen to its resulting and ongoing effect:
in submission we are at last free to value other people. their dreams and plans become important to us. we have entered into a new, wonderful, glorious freedom – the freedom to give up our own rights for the good of others. for the first time we can love people unconditionally. we have given up the right to demand that they return our love. no longer do we feel that we have to be treated in a certain way … we discover that it is far better to serve our neighbor than to have our own way.
we cannot submit in the way richard describes until we first walk away from ourselves and our encompassing sin: greed, pride, selfishness, and fear of letting go of our control. but, the result is freedom.
do you know the liberation that comes from giving up your rights? it means you are set free from the seething anger and bitterness you feel when someone doesn’t act toward you the way you think they should. it means you are free to obey Jesus’s command, ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (matthew 5:44). it means that for the first time you understand how it is possible to surrender the right to retaliate.
mark 8:34 is our cornerstone, where Jesus implores us to do as He has done: “if any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”
submission, servanthood, freedom.
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