The Counter-Intuitive Challenge of Submitting to God
We are not by nature submissive people. Our tendency or inclination is to assert ourselves at all costs and require that others yield to our desires and opinions and goals. Running directly contrary to this orientation of our hearts is the command in James 4:7 that we “submit” ourselves “to God.” Continue reading . . .
We are not by nature submissive people. Our tendency or inclination is to assert ourselves at all costs and require that others yield to our desires and opinions and goals. Running directly contrary to this orientation of our hearts is the command in James 4:7 that we “submit” ourselves “to God.”
Honesty requires that we confess we are not predisposed to submit to anyone other than ourselves. We are by nature and choice independent and autonomous beings. We want no one telling us what to do or not to do. We want to be ruled by no one other than “self”.
But God has created and organized this world and especially the church to operate on the basis of a certain hierarchy of authority. Again, I know that many have a knee-jerk reaction to this. But there is no escaping the fact that God has commanded that we be submissive.
• In the sphere of the state, all of us are to be subject to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13).
• In the context of the home, children are to be submissive to their parents (Eph. 6:1-3: Col. 3:20).
• In the context of our relationship with others in the body of Christ we are to submit “to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21).
• In marriage, wives are to be submissive to their husbands (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1).
• When it comes to our jobs, employees are to submit to their employers (Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18; Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22-25).
• And in the church, all are to be submissive to the Elders (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13).
Perhaps this doesn’t set well in your soul. If it doesn’t, you need to ask yourself if you truly believe in the authority of Scripture to set the agenda for all our relationships.
In saying this, of course, let me remind everyone that, except in the case of our submission to God, our submission in other contexts to other people has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of equality or worth. Whereas God is of infinite worth and immeasurably more glorious than all of his creation, such is not the case in these other instances. Those who govern the state are not of greater value or worth than those whom they govern. Parents are not superior to children in value. No Christian in the body of Christ is of more value than any other Christian. Employers are not more important to God than employees. Husbands are not of greater worth than their wives. And Elders are not more valuable or in any way superior to those whom they lead in the local church.
Now that we’re clear on that, what does it mean for us to “submit” to God? I’ll only mention two things.
First, it means to acknowledge that his written Word, the Bible, is the highest authority over our lives. To submit to God means that we believe all that it says and we obey all that it commands. We aren’t free to pick and choose what feels good or right or fair. We are subject to every syllable of Scripture.
Second, it means we make the glory and honor and praise of God the highest aim or goal of all that we do. The apostle Paul was describing our submission to God when he said in 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
May God empower us to happily and humbly submit to him. And may he also enable each of us, depending on the relationship in view, to submit to those whom he has placed over us in the Lord.