“Submission” has got to be one of the most controversial words in all the Bible.
Why? Many ministers of God’s Word steer clear of teaching and writing on submission because it is so unfortunately (and wrongfully) sticky and misunderstood. But let’s cut right to the heart of the matter: people do not submit because we do not like dying to self. To put it bluntly, where there is a lack of submission, there is rebellion against God.
(Before I go much further, let me say that much of this blog post is inspired by Touching Godliness Through Submission by K.P. Yohannan, who very understandingly, pastorally, and frankly lays out the Biblical concept of submission. Thank you to my esteemed friend Josiah for lending me this gem.)
God has set up delegates to govern (Romans 13:1), and these men and women are the representatives of God Himself, whether they “rule” over a workplace, a country, a body of believers, a home, or what have you. When we submit to the authorities God has established, we come under His protection and blessing. Think of authority as an umbrella, and submission, then, is choosing to step underneath the umbrella.
If we choose not to submit because we disagree, or we feel that we would make a smarter, better, more capable decision – what we are actually doing is conditionally obeying God. Our submission, though, has nothing to do with the authority to whom we are submitting, but everything to do with our hearts and attitudes. And, friends, we either submit to God or we rebel against Him… the way Lucifer rebelled.
Submission is not weakness. Submission is direct obedience to God; it is the choice to crucify the flesh and say, “God, I will obey You, even if it pains me.” Even Jesus submitted. Can you imagine the Trinity discussing in eternity past the plan of salvation – which one of them would choose to be born to man and to die? And Jesus volunteered. Scripture is abundantly clear that Jesus did and said only that which the Father told Him to do and say (e.g., John 5:19, John 5:30, and John 12:49). Indeed, the roaring and mighty Lion of Heaven willingly humbled Himself to become a Lamb, completely dependent on the Father and consenting to be led, even to His death. Even when it was not in His best interest, Jesus still submitted to the Father’s will (Luke 22:42)!
Indeed, submission requires faith.
Also, I want to point out that when Jesus chose to submit, He never once lost His equal status with the Father or the Holy Spirit. Therefore, choosing to submit does not make you inferior, as the culture of the world would suggest.
Children are to submit to their parents. Wives are to submit to their husbands. Employees are to submit to employers. Servants are to submit to their masters. Americans, we are to submit to President Obama. The list goes on. This is God’s order. Lack of submission waters the deadly seed of rebellion against God’s ways.
A fascinating Bible story is when Hagar was mistreated by her authority Sarai and eventually ran away from her (Genesis 16). And what did God’s angel tell her to do? “Go back to your mistress and submit to her. And I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” What? We are to submit even to authority who is in sin? We are to submit even when we are mistreated? Look at the condition of the promise: when Hagar submitted, even to an unkind and unfair authority, she would receive blessing. Think again of the umbrella concept! As we submit, even painfully, God will reward us. He has designed the principles of His Kingdom to be such that we receive prosperity through our submission to earthly authorities.
Oh, the ways of the Kingdom are so different than the ways of the world!
Submission can be downright terrifying for a number of reasons (again, many of which stem from fear of not getting our own way). However, and I say very sensitively, there are cases of a submissive heart being abused. And for those cases, I am deeply sorry. That is not God’s way. Yohannan says, “Please keep in mind, however, that we are living in a day and age in which the crisis is not the misuse of authority. Rather, this age is infected with the spirit of independence and rebellion. Most [of those living in the end times] are rooted in unbrokenness… We must go against the spirit of today in order to follow Christ in submission.” So we must tread exceedingly carefully if we feel we must choose not to submit to authority – and the criteria for choosing not to submit must be more than disagreeing with authority, feeling overlooked by authority, or getting the short end of the stick from the authority. Seek godly, unbiased counsel and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit – and not your emotions.
And heed this proverb: a cat who has fallen into boiling water is scared even when it sees cool water.
Friends, I appreciate that you allow me to be frank with you. This is an area that many people do not submit to God in.. no pun intended!
Let us submit when we don’t understand. Let us submit when we feel we deserve better. Let us submit when the world would say not to. Oh, God, please help me to crucify my flesh and to live for You.
I am praying for you,
P.S. It seems my blog is missing some pictures and links… I am getting to work on that asap! Much love..