What does a life of submission look like for a believer? What does it look like to practice a lifestyle of submission. This is the question we sought to answer this past Sunday as we looked at Spiritual Habits (Disciplines) for Ordinary People.
As I spoke with people in the days leading up to Sunday, submission often brings up negative images or thoughts. There were more than a few references to the series, Fifty Shades of Gray, and it’s story of domination and submission. This series has been quite successful- which leads to some other questions- but this was a common view of submission.
As a church and as disciples of Jesus- we must practice the thoroughly Biblical idea of submission because submission was practiced by Jesus. Submission is essential and central to the life of the Disciple because Jesus submitted; Jesus, even though He is God- submitted to become human; Jesus submitted to a criminals death on the cross even though he was sinless. Why? Because Jesus’ love for you and for me led him to redeem us through his life, death and resurrection. (See Philippians 2:3-11). Out of our love for God, we are led to submit to those around us, raising them up and pointing them to the redemption that God offers through Jesus Christ.
So what does a life of Submission Look like?
- We would invert the natural power structures that are present in our culture. The poor, the lame, the sick, the imprisoned, people with disabilities, and the elderly would no longer be the people we avoid- but they become part of our everyday lives. We submit our time and our energy to care for them, to befriend them, and to learn from them. We have much to learn from the poor and those in low position- and if we think that we cannot learn from them- then for us, submission will be a problem.
- For those of us who are married or who will seek to be married one day- we would learn (or continue to learn) mutual submission. What makes a lasting marriage and relationship is not seeking to gain what we want- but submitting our desires, needs, and wants in order to fulfill our spouses needs and wants out of our love for them and our love for God.
- As parents and as bosses (they are not that different!), it means rather than holding onto the authority that we have because of our position; rather than demanding that others serve us- a life of submission means that we serve those around us. The true Christian leader is a servant above everything else. Living a life of submission means that we exist to serve rather than be served.
- For Children- submission means obeying our parents, knowing that it is the only commandment in the “Ten Commandments” that carries a promise- “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land of the LORD your God is giving you.”
- For those of us seeking to live as disciples- the only response we can possibly have to God’s love is total submission- total surrener to God. All of who we are, what we own, what we do, how we live to God. Our lives are a gift from God. They are not our own. Awareness of God’s grace creates an opportunity to submit who were are, what we are and all that we might become to God.
Chris Heuertz, in his book Simple Spirituality, shares a story from South India about a boy who loved to play marbles. He would walk around hoping to find opponents to play against. He had one marble in particular, a special blue marble, that had won him many matches.
One day, while looking for an opponent he encountered a young girl who was eating a bag of chocolate candy. Though the boys love was marbles, he had a weakness for chocolate. He concocted a plan. “How about I give you all these marbles for those chocolates?” The girl replied, “Sounds good to me.”
The boy put his hand in his pocket, searching for the distinguishing features of his blue marble. Once he identified it with his finger tip, he carefully pushed it to the bottom of his pocket and pulled out all the other marbles.
As he handed the marbles to the girl in exchange for the chocolates, the boy thought his plan was a success and turned to walk away. As he began to eat the candy, he suddenly turned to the girl and asked, “Hey, did you give me all the chocolates?”
In our own spiritual lives, we live just as defiantly to God. We demand every blessing, every gift of the kingdom, everything that God has to offer. We want our prayers to be answered, to be close to Jesus, in short- we want it all. But we are unwilling to give up everything for it.
We may have our own “blue marble” in our lives this morning that we are unwilling to surrender or submit to the control of God. Like the child, we hold onto this “blue marble” while expecting to experience the fullness of God in our lives. But until we offer ourselves in total surrender, and become disciplined at submitting to the will of God- our participation in the life of God will be limited and incomplete.
How do you understand submission within the Christian life? What is your “blue marble?” What keeps you from surrendering your ‘blue marble’ for the life God desires your to have?