Submission – Disciplines 2014-20
Martin Luther supposedly said, “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” That statement somewhat sounds confusing to me! Webster states that to submit is to yield to a power of authority and to be submissive is to be humbly obedient.
People can use religion as a way to bondage and religion has done much to manipulate people regarding the subject of the teaching of submission. In discussing the Spiritual Discipline of Submission we must realize again the purpose of the Disciplines. We learned at the very beginning that there is really one goal for the Disciplines, namely, to experience a life of relationship and intimacy with God. By themselves, they have no value, but they have value, only as a means of setting us before God so that he can give us the liberation we seek in finding Him. The Disciplines are the means, but not the answer to finding liberation, they lead us to the Answer of finding God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
That being said, “What do we think Submission is, in relation to being a Discipline?”
I had a hard time with this word myself. I made a statement at my Affirmation of Baptism on 3-30-13, that I will “Submit myself to our Lord God and surrender myself to our Savior Christ Jesus, as His disciple”. This was stated then, after much deliberations, prayer and thought and I have my own ideas of what I meant when I made this statement.
We are told to submit ourselves to God (James 4:7). In Ephesians we read the wife is to submit to her husband as unto the Lord and the husband is to “love” his wife (Ephesians 5:22-25). This passage is one that could be debated today though…… The Apostle Peter writes, “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. Being older, I like this one!!! All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). The theme here is one of humility. One cannot submit to God without humility. Obedience requires us to humble ourselves to surrender to the authority of another, and we are told that God resists pride—the opposite of humility—and the arrogance that fosters that pride.
Almost all of what I have read has to do with submission to others in a humble way, with God loving us for doings so; let me explain.
The biblical teaching on submission focuses primarily on the spirit with which we view other people. This concern for a spirit of consideration toward others pervades the entire New Testament. The old covenant stipulated that we must not murder. Jesus, however, stressed that the real issue was the inner spirit of murder with which we view people. In the matter of submission the same is true; the real issue is the spirit of consideration and respect we have for each other.
What are the actual “Acts of Submission?”
The first act of submission is to the Triune God. At the beginning of the day we wait, in the words of the hymn writer, “yielded and still” before Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As the first words of the morning are of submission, so are the last words of the night. We surrender our body, mind, and spirit into the hands of God to do with us as he pleases through the long darkness. The cross is the sign of submission, through Jesus Christ, our Savior.
The second act of submission is to the Scripture. As we submit ourselves to the Word of God living (Jesus), so we submit ourselves to the Word of God written (Scripture). We yield ourselves first to hear the Word, second to receive the Word, and third to obey the Word.
The third act of submission is to our family. The primary deed of submission is a commitment to listen to the other family members. Its corollary is willingness to share, which is itself a work of submission.
The fourth act of submission is to our neighbors and those we meet in the course of our daily lives. The life of simple goodness is lived before them. If they are in need, we help them. tools. No task is too small, too trifling, for each one is an opportunity to live in submission.
The fifth act of submission is to the believing community, the body of Christ. If there are jobs to be done and tasks to be accomplished, we look at them closely to see if they are God’s invitation to the cross-life. At times calls to serve the Church universal may come, and if the ministry is confirmed in our hearts, we can submit to it with assurance and reverence.
The sixth act of submission is to the broken and despised. In every culture there are the “widows and orphans”; that is, the helpless, the undefended (James 1: 27). Our first responsibility is to be among them. There we must live the cross-life, which is the sign of Submission.
The seventh act of submission is to the world. We live in an interdependent, international community. We cannot live in isolation. Starving peoples affect us. Our act of submission is a determination to live as a responsible member of an increasingly irresponsible world.
The Spiritual Discipline of Submission is complex and is more detailed than what I have shown above. This could be a lesson plan that can be discussed in detail, but I have elected to just show what is included and perhaps we can delve into depth regarding Submission, at a later time. The commitment to the Discipline of Submission is NOT AN EASY ONE, and I feel that we all can “strive” toward accomplishing the goal of submitting to our God. I have only highlighted the thoughts of Robert Foster that he presented in his book, “Celebration of Disciplines” and when you get his book, there is SO MUCH detail in it, that you can read and understand.