Submission. We don’t like that word. It brings to mind ideas of oppression, domineering, and weakness. Pictures of tyrannical kings from the Middle Ages, repressive regimes in third world countries, arrogant bosses, abusive spouses, or even school yard bullies are all connected with the word submission. So too, often, is Christianity.
It’s true that the Bible talks a lot about submission, especially to God, but we miss the true nature of submission because we understand it from a human perspective, not from how God looks at it. Submission in relationship with God is about a mutual giving to one another. Jesus himself said he didn’t come to be served but to serve (Matt. 20:28). Paul tells us that Jesus is to be our example of submission (Philippians 2). It’s really in our best interest. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us that if we trust God completely, and look to him (in other words submit to his control) in all our ways, that he will make our path straight.
Let me put it in an analogy that may help. I had a horse whose name was Nina. Nina loved to work cattle. When we would go out on round-up, if she was fully submitted to me the slightest touch was all it would take for her to go where I directed and we would accomplish wonderful and satisfying things together, fully enjoying each other in the process. On the rare day when she decided she did not want to submit to me, well let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant for either one of us.
I submitted myself to Nina’s needs by making sure she had good food and water, keeping her feet trimmed and healthy, making sure she had her annual shots, etc. She submitted to me by doing what I directed her to. When she did what I asked her to we were able to accomplish what I wanted, but at the same time she was fulfilled, and we both enjoyed the relationship. A further application of this analogy is that successfully working cattle together did not come without first spending hours of time together, practicing, getting to know each other, and learning to trust in the mundane setting of the round pen and riding arena.
Our relationship with God is intended to be one of mutual giving of ourselves, which brings enjoyment to both. God has already completely given himself to us in Jesus, so we know that we can trust him in submission to him in our day-to-day lives. What does that look like? We’ll explore that in next the next post.