In the Celebration of the Disciplines Richard Foster defines Submission as the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way. Foster goes on to say “The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondages in human society today.”
Pivoting on this thought I have described this condition as the “bane of our existence.” Neither thought contains much freedom and Jesus said in John 8:36 that if He sets you free you are free indeed. There is no freedom in getting your way and manipulating and controlling others. There is only bondage. Engaging in the discipline of submission is a major path Jesus has given us to set us free indeed.
Before I share with you my personal applications with this discipline let me give you the counterfeit postures we can easily be deluded into that lead to no freedom and great abuse.
Sometimes the limits of submission are extremely hard to define, simply stated submission reaches out of the will of God when it becomes destructive.
Easier push backs to submission would be situations that involve a parent demanding that their spouse punish
their child in an unreasonable manner, a child is asked by an adult to engage in unlawful behavior, remaining in an abusive marriage under the false belief of not wanting to be disobedient to God or His law, being asked as a citizen by your country to violate Scripture for the sake of the country.
In a society that is so rights conscious submission to behaviors such as the way we are graded by our teacher, the promotion we get passed over for, allowing one spouse to gain professional fulfillment at the expense of the other are just a few issues that demand a deep conversation and dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
Now let me share with you my submission facilitator of all time.
Can you imagine any situation in your life that this would be the result of your submission? To the contrary we live such a soft life as believers. I know many of us are unemployed, foreclosed, underemployed, terminally ill and it’s very very difficult but look again at this picture, is it this bad? Please note I am NOT using these examples(unemployed, foreclosed, underemployed, terminally ill) as objects of submission just as realities of our life at present. So the everyday choices we need to make as to serving and thinking of others interest first, denying ourselves for the benefit of another are truly shallow events of our life compared to flogging , employment and housing issues and our health but we make them into giants as we wallow in our self-centeredness.
Focusing on this image from the Passion of Christ film painfully demonstrated to me how shallow and self focused I am in my life. It gave and continues to give me freedom to say “so long self.”
I challenge you to review the scene of Jesus in the courtyard being flogged and scourged. Ask yourself if I began to consistently think of others more than myself would it result in the pain, suffering and bleeding I am observing Jesus take for me?
For years I wondered what it really meant to pick up the cross and follow Jesus. I now know. It’s not a legalistic category of stuff to do, its a way of life, a life of submission to the Trinity and to others.
Additionally prior to the film rocking my selfish world I memorized on the urging of my spiritual mentor:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
I urge you strongly to commit this to memory and hide it in your heart for real transforming freedom.
Friends, the greatest challenge we face to our becoming more like Christ and restoring His reputation to our culture is our egocentric desires. The weight of these desires are enormous and difficult to escape. The good news is that the Kingdom of God is near and we have a rescuer that we can turn to- the Trinitarian Presence of God! We can be intimate in divine communion with Christ and begin to take on His character and shed our need for comfort. The means to this divine communion are the Spiritual Disciplines.
The result of this process is an inner goodness or in the Greek “Dikaiosune.” This inner goodness then manifest itself in agape love for all. No discipline goes further in transforming our character to this result then submission.
Everyday before our feet hit the floor we have a choice to carry the cross and follow Him to freedom or carry our self into another day of bondage. It’s that free will thing friend but it only becomes free when it operates in the midst of His will. I guess you could say it’s a crazy thing called LOVE!
Anticipating your submission stories as we pray for you!