A friend of mine is studying the nature of submission in their Christian walk. There is a lot of frustration in that there isn’t really a clear definition of what that exactly means. How does one go about being submissive? How do we know we’re doing the Lord’s will and not our own, when we’re trying to be submissive? And what’s this stuff about “all the blessings that will come to you if you are submissive”? As my friend rightly points out, there are simply too many instances, Biblical, historical, and current, which prove that blessings don’t always follow submission.
Then there’s the notion that if you’re submissive to something you may not have wanted to be submissive to, God will somehow make sure that it’s what you really wanted to do all along and just didn’t know it until He made you do it. “Thank you for the beating Lord, please Sir may I have another?!”
Um … no.
And as I was thinking over these things last night, a couple of things occurred to me.
Submission – there is no law that says you will be blessed if you submit, or that it will even be good for you. The blessing may come in the afterlife, or it may be for the benefit of someone else. Perhaps the only reward for submission is the knowledge that you pleased your Lord. If the King needs soldiers, and He calls you, you go, because that’s what He wants. It’s about HIS goals being accomplished, it is so NOT about good things coming to us. If they do, woo!, but if not, well it’s not about us anyway.
That’s a real gut-buster. Our egos want it to be all about us, that our lives go the way WE want them to, according to the plans WE have laid out, according to OUR will. And I think that’s where the real test of submission comes in. When the King calls, will you go? Nope, it’s not about you, and it’s not that He doesn’t care, exactly, it’s just that it’s not about you and there is a much bigger picture you can’t see.
I was reminded of Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion. His prayer has haunted me for some time now. He prayed, “If there is any other way, Father, please let this cup pass from Me, but if not, then Your Will Father, and not Mine.”
So, He didn’t really want to suffer, but He knew He had to, and He was WILLING to, because He knew it was the only way. [Seriously, do you really believe God would allow His beloved Son to be slaughtered if there had been any other way for sin to be paid for, like you just being a good person? If that’s all it takes to get to Heaven, then Christ died in vain.] Christ submitted, He was obedient, even though He knew He’d not see a blessing for that obedience on this side of the grave. He submitted knowing He wasn’t going to like it. He understood that in that moment, it really wasn’t about Him and what He wanted at all, it was about the Father, and what the Father wanted. God also didn’t try to convince Him that He’d come to appreciate it later. “You’ll be glad You did, Son, just wait and see.” Christ did it because He was obedient, He submitted, He knew there was value in what the Father wanted. Obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Christ’s Humility and Exaltation
5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow — of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth — 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So, He’s not promising a blessing if you’re obedient. He’s not promising you’ll like it, now or later. He’s not promising that your life will get better or you’ll be happier or anything like that. He’s asking if you love Him. Love Him enough to do what He asks, no matter what, no matter the cost to our selves, our dreams, our lives, our will.
Do we? Do you? Do I? I believe this is where the submission rubber hits the obedience road.
Can you say road rash?