Sunday, August 24, 2014


Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect … even to those who are unreasonable! …
You wives, be submissive to your husbands in the same way….  just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”
(1 Peter 2:18–3:6 excerpts)

Wives, submit to your husbands, just like slaves submit to their owners

No one wants to preach that sermon.  No one wants to talk about submission these days – even Jesus’ disciples!  Jesus: the single greatest example of submissive service in human history. 

No, these days we are taught to “stand up for our rights,” and never let others tell you what to do.  If a woman is submissive to her husband, you can bet she will be mocked.  If an employee is submissive to his boss, he’s seen as a kisser of unmentionable body parts.  And woe to the poor minority person who is seen as submissive to authority, especially authority of a different race, gender or sexual orientation.  The world cries out to dominate – never submit.  Brag, never be humble.  We defensively refuse to ever “allow anyone to take advantage” of us.  We prefer the philosophy of Conan the Barbarian:
What is best in life?
To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women

Or we constantly seek revenge disguised as justice like gangsters, mobsters or the Hatfields & McCoys.  Nobody better wrong us, or we’ll wrong them back. 

And so there's never a time when preachers say: "submission is a virtue," or "let others take advantage of you" or "turn the other cheek means exactly what Jesus said it meant."  Audiences today would lynch any such preacher.  

I believe this is a huge problem in God’s kingdom.  I’m not so much concerned with the world, but within the kingdom, we’re supposed to understand that submissive service is not only honorable, it’s powerful. 

Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. So he came to Simon Peter who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.”

So when he had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined again, he said to them,
“Do you know what I have done to you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord;’ and you are right, for I am. If I then, the Lord and the teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.   For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.

If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
(John 13:5-7; 12 –17)

Jesus was not putting on a show, like we so often see these days in silly foot-washings.  Jesus was doing the job of a low-down slave.  And why?  To make a point. 

Pay special attention to the relationship of lords and servants.  We tend to think like the world: that the ‘lord’ is the one with the power – and so we want to be the boss, the master, the teacher or lord, so we can tell others what to do.  But scripture refutes this notion, and Jesus focuses on the power of submission. 

Submission comes up in lots of ways in God’s word.  Not only are we to submit to good leaders, but during the reign of Nero Paul would write that we should submit to governing authorities.  Above Peter (who seems to have learned his lesson from Jesus) says slaves should submit even to bad owners and wives to their husbands.  Paul wrote several bits about submission to the church in Ephesus, even at one point suggesting we “submit to one another.”  (Ephesians 5.21)

Another way submission is important and misunderstood is in our relationship to Yahweh.  Because of the centuries-old bickering between various denominations, we've become a culture obsessed with the mechanics of salvation.  Are we saved by works, faith, grace, or some of each?  Of course the problem for works-based folks is that they cannot succeed, so they need work-arounds, like priests telling people to say “Hail Marys,” or just outright selling indulgences.  The problem for the grace-based folks is that they have to go out of their way to explain that nothing they do is ever designed to save them.  And why is this such a problem? 

It’s a problem because our admission to God’s kingdom is not based on winning a battle over sin, or winning anything, for that matter.  Our admission to the kingdom comes when we surrender.  We become God’s children when we are begotten of God and surrender to rebirth.  Baptism, therefore, isn't something we do, it’s an act of submission.  When a general loses a battle and kneels before the conqueror (or signs papers, or surrenders his sword), the only action he’s doing is submission.  If the victor tells the loser that he’ll spare his life if he will kneel, then the kneeling loser didn't do something to be saved other than submit to his better. 

“We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
(John 8:33–34)

“How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

… Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
…Don’t you know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”
(Excerpts from Romans 6)

When we are born again, we become new creatures.  The difference between us before that moment and after it isn't just that now we’re going to try to be good.  The difference is a change in ownership. 
We used to be slaves to our own flesh, obeying its desires.  Now we are slaves of God.
We used to be subject to our pride and ego – now we humble ourselves before Yahweh.  
We used to be slaves to the opinions of others – now we care nothing for the opinion of men, only God. 

The whole of our new lives is to be surrendered – submitted – to God, and God only.  It’s not something we DO or don’t do, it’s a surrender.  Surrender may come with terms, but those terms don’t mean we “did” something to win … it simply means we bow before our new boss. 

Being disciplined requires effort, but surrendering is giving up.  It’s quitting. 

Going forward

Your challenge is to consider how you submit and to what or whom you submit.

Do you think it’s a bad thing to submit? 
If so, please reconsider. 

Our new boss (Jesus) taught us to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile and to love our enemies.  Everything he did and said was an act of submission, leading to even his death.  And yes, sometimes people will take advantage of you, just as they took advantage of Jesus.  That fear is exactly what Satan uses to keep you as his ___. 

Do you think submission is weakness? 
It can be.  Submitting because you’re afraid is weakness.  But godly submission is not so! 

Scripture teaches women to submit to husbands, not for husbands to insist upon it, and mistreat them if they don’t.  If a wife refuses to submit, then that’s it.  If a wife (or anyone else) submits because they’re afraid, either of their husband, their boss, or of going to hell if they don’t – then that’s not true Godly submission.  Godly submission is something we do who are confident in the power of God.  We can “afford” to submit, because we are faithful enough to take it.  When Jesus allowed people to spit on him and beat him, was it because he was afraid of them?  Absurd.  Jesus submitted precisely to show his great power, and so can we. 

God gives us the same choice we must give others.  We can submit to God or not.  He never tries to force us.  Only Satan uses coercion, bribery and intimidation.  Sons of God give others a chance to submit or not.  Children of Satan stand up for themselves and never let others “bully” or take advantage. 

Do you think that obeying God requires great strength and discipline? 
Then you don’t know submission/surrender. 
Right now you are fighting against your boss – your fleshly appetites, or the opinions of other people, or whatever it is that governs you. 

Fighting your boss IS hard - so change bosses. 
Men, stop letting your ego, your vanity, your taste buds and/or your wieners boss you around. 
Women, learn the strength your great-grandmothers had.  They, like Jesus, understood the power of servant leadership.  They understood that true beauty isn't external – it’s strength and wisdom.  This will earn you more than affection, it will earn you respect.  Learn to be generous like Tabitha in Acts 9 or shrewd like Abigail of 1 Samuel 25.  These were women who understood the power of submission from wisdom and humility; and did not submit to the court of human opinion.  

Please take some time to actually sit and think about submission as a source of true power and as a means to obedience.  Remember that in scripture it’s always the humble person, the servant – who is God’s favorite. 

Submit yourselves (for the Lord’s sake) to every human institution….

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

For you have been called for this purpose: since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin (nor was any deceit found in his mouth); and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear….  

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing….

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.
And don’t fear their intimidation…
And don’t be troubled,
…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts….

For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few … were brought safely through water.
Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.
(Excerpts from 1 Peter 2:13–3:22)

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