Posted in Christian, Christianity, Faith, Spiritual, SpiritualNess

Submission

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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. 

Philippians 2

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? 

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8 thoughts on “Submission

  1. This is great, Love. Nicely done, well said.

    There are probably any number of differences between your friend’s plight and Jesus in the Garden, though. Just pointing out the obvious, but Jesus had the knowledge of the reward for His obedience. Yes, He had to overcome the flesh to get there, and there was that last desperate plea before the suckiest suck that ever sucked, ever, but He knew – and told his guys – about what He had coming, if He could just get through that SSTES part.

    I bet your friend, like most of us, isn’t clear on what the goal is. God may or may not have revealed the final destination, the call as it were, to him/her. Could your friend be worried about something s/he doesn’t need to worry about because there’s been no expression of what s/he needs to submit *to*? I bet that can lead to a lot of frustration.

    But your thoughts are well taken. No, it’s not about us, except…does an omnipotent God – and He *is* omnipotent, right? – really need to sacrifice pawns to accomplish His plans? Does He really need to break a few eggs to make the omelet? I’m just asking because we proclaim God’s mighty might and call Him Almighty, so…is He or not? Y’know?

    I know people suffer when they submit to Him. They just do. A lot of them do. So I guess I answer my own question there. Nothing’s ever spared God’s people from suffering in past ages, why would it be different now? So there’s that too.

    You put a thoughtful post together here, Love. And while I’d bet my entire paycheck s/he’s not someone to compare to Jesus, maybe there are lots of other things they can glean from your thoughts. “Suck it up, Buttercup” seems like the TL;DR version, or is that an inaccurate assessment of your ideas here?

    LTY

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    1. I don’t think suck it up is precisely what I was going for here. Perhaps, cowboy up. Perhaps, “okay Lord, if that’s what You want.” I don’t think the Lord always says we have to suck it up, He just asks if we’re willing to. And not for His benefit, but for ours. If we’re not willing, then we don’t love Him as much as we think, do we? I don’t think He asks us to do anything to prove something to Him, but to ourselves. I think it’s part of the faith lived out sort of thing.

      And I never meant to imply that I was comparing my friend to Christ. I’m sorry if you took it that way. Just that Christ was like us, and gave us an example to strive for, a model of submission, if you will. And is the knowing the goal really the issue? Would Christ have been less obedient if He’d not known what was in store for Him? I don’t think the issue is the knowing what the goal is, but the willingness to do what He asks, regardless of the goal.

      Pawns? No. But it is a broken world and we are broken people who inflict a lot of damage on each other and ourselves. Sometimes, I believe, we are collateral damage. Not because that’s what He wills, but because that’s the nature of the world we live in.

      Some fires are hotter than others, that we are asked to walk through. I don’t have what it takes to walk through the hottest ones, and I know that He knows that. I don’t believe He would ask me to do something I’m not able to. But I hope I would be willing to do what He does ask. I’m sure I’ve failed, too many times, but I hope I try. I’m probably at the lowest setting, while others are on the self-cleaning cycle. And I hope that I get to a point where whatever He asks isn’t too much for me, no matter the temperature. As Jim Elliot said, no man is a fool who gives that which he cannot keep, for that which he cannot lose.

      LTY2

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  2. You nail the trickiest part about this for me, Ness. That is, this is about God’s will and not some woman in the church group’s definition of submission. I’ve seen thoughts on “submission” used to be holier than thou and completely miss the point. The point that you make so well. That to soften one’s heart and be willing to be pleasing to God is more likely to get us to the kind of “submission” that God has in mind. I hope that makes sense!

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    1. Oh Angie, that makes perfect sense and that’s just what I was trying to express! That it’s about the willingness to submit. If we can’t even get out the door without setting aside our own will, what in the world do we think He’s going to accomplish with/through/for us? Yes! Thank you! ❤ *hugs*

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