The spiritual discipline of submission releases the Christian from the ongoing need to get their own way. When you consider the things that we all in one way or another struggle with — judging others, pride, demanding that we be first, etc. – we discover at the core of each of these the demand that we get our own way in things. Submission is difficult to put into practice because it guarantees we will not get our own way. Letting go of that need/desire is one of the biggest, most challenging steps that the Christian takes.
Submission is at the core of a biblical faith in God. Consider these passages:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other Gods before me.” (Ex 20:2-3) (This includes the god of ME)
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mk 8:34)
“So the last will be first and the first will be last.” (Mt 20:16)
Submission is all encompassing. We submit to God and His Lordship. We submit to His Word and obey. We submit to one another within the Body, putting others ahead of ourselves. We submit to the world at large, even if they are not a part of the Body. We seek in every instance to reduce ourselves while lifting others. We do this all in the joy of knowing that our salvation and the new life of today and eternity was purchased with the ultimate act of submission.
The practice of submission is often abused and this abuse contributes to the struggles we have in putting it into practice. A prime rule for practicing submission is that we do so until it becomes destructive. That is, we submit to others until the practice becomes a denial of the law of love and our submission threatens to revert to a slavery outside of the boundaries of the Bible. We are then called to speak out and remedy the situation as best we can.
Image Bruce McKinlay