Deep: Submission

Author: Gareth Russell Date: Sunday, April 6, 2014 Campus:

This week we focused on Submission and explored what it meant to deny yourself. If you want to listen again to the talk click here, the questions and transcript are below. If you have any comments, questions, or additional resources add them all below. Have a great week!

1. How would you define biblical submission?

2. Why do you think biblical submission is important?

3. What would you identify as the limits of biblical submission?

4. How can you apply biblical submission in your life?

Deep: Submission // Grand Union Vineyard Church // 6th April 2014

This week we continue our series looking at the spiritual disciplines.

And this week we continue with a discipline that on the surface does not seem either desirable nor endearing, it is counter cultural and it is radical, this is the act of submission.

Before we look at this subject, let me talk briefly about the disciplines in general.

I don’t know what you first think of when you hear the word discipline, but it may be you have negative perceptions – thoughts of restriction, or punishment, or simply just another chore.

But let me tell you this, the purpose of these disciplines is freedom. Our aim is the freedom, not the Discipline. The moment we make the Discipline our central focus, we turn it into law and lose the freedom that it will bring.

These Disciplines we have talked about so far: study, prayer, fasting, simplicity, meditation, and solitude, these disciplines are for the purpose of realising a greater good. In and of themselves they are of no value whatsoever.

They have value only as a means of taking us deeper in our relationship with God, so that He can show us the freedom that we are looking for.

Freedom and liberation is the end. These disciplines are merely, the means.

But they are important means and they will help us as we look to experience greater intimacy with the Father, become more like Jesus, and experience the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives each day that we live on this earth.

I expect that some of you when you hear the word submission, might think it a contradiction in the pursuit of freedom.

In this world we are taught to look after number one, to not concern ourselves with those around us so long as we are progressing, we are getting the promotions, we are buying the bigger houses, we are becoming more powerful, more attractive, and more independent of the need for others.

So how can we find freedom in submission?

Simply put, submission is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way.

As Richard Foster puts it, “The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondages in human society today.”

I don’t know about you but I have struggled in the past when some things haven’t gone my way and I have sat on it, stewed on it for days, even weeks and there are people maybe even here today who continue to stew on an issue for months and years afterward.

In the Discipline of submission, we are released to drop the issue, to forget about it and to get on with our lives.

Being completely honest, there is a good chance that the thing you are stewing over that didn’t go your way, is not as important as you think it is.

Let it go.

It is not life or death but it is holding you back from living in true freedom.

Submission is not about being a doormat, or manipulating a relationship, or being dependent on others for your sense of worth. The biblical teaching on submission focuses primarily on the spirit with which we view other people.

In submission we are free at last to value other people. Not valuing them because of what we can get from them, not valuing them because they have control over us, but valuing them in obedience to Jesus.

When we give up our rights for the good of others, we will experience what genuine freedom means.

For the first time we can love people unconditionally. We don’t need them to love us back. We have given up that unnecessary right.

Loving others, is not longer dependent on them loving us back.

No longer do we feel we have to be treated in a certain way, we celebrate the success of others, we genuine feel others pain in their failures.

To us it genuinely doesn’t matter if our plans succeed or fail, we discover that it is far better to serve our neighbour than to have our own way.

When we think and act like this, our lives will grow. Our perspective will change.

Imagine that. Imagine not looking at what we GET out of a relationship, but only what we can GIVE.

Acting in this way means you are set free from anger or bitterness when someone doesn’t act towards you in the way you think they should.

It means you obey Jesus command when he says “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:39)

It means you are free. Imagine that. Then stop imagining it and start doing it.

Submission is the mindset or attitude that is the basis of serving. And serving is a command of Jesus Christ.

In Mark 8:34 Jesus says this, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

When you are told to deny yourself, what is your response? A deep intake of breath? A missed beat of the heart? A decision to ignore the sentiment completely?

Usually we are told to pursue self fulfilment and as Herzberg put it, self actualisation.

But the truth is, that it is only through self denial that we will ever experience self fulfilment. It is only in submission that we will achieve actualisation and become who we were created to be.

Denying your self, does not mean hating yourself or losing your sense of individuality or identity in any way.

Hating yourself claims that we have no worth, and even if we have worth, that we should reject it.

Denying yourself says that we are of infinite worth and shows us how to realise that worth.

Denying yourself, as Jesus meant it is simply coming to the understanding that we do not have to have it our own way.

Our happiness is not dependent on what we want.

We all have desires in our hearts. We all have things we would really like. It may be a bigger TV, it may be food for the day, it may be a life partner, or a child.

But let me ask you this, is your faith in Jesus dependent on you getting what you want?

Those desires in themselves are not wrong or sinful, but your relationship with Jesus should not be dependent on a bargaining chip of getting what you want.

Your relationship with Christ, should be your relationship with Christ – no matter what you get in this life.

And let me be clear, to love yourself and to deny yourself are not two conflicting statements.

They are complimentary statements.

In Matthew 22:39, Jesus commands us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Recognising our own worth and loving ourselves is a prerequisite of being about to deny ourselves and love others.

Jesus says that it is only in self-denial that we can truly love ourselves.

In Matthew 10:39, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Denying yourself means the freedom of giving way to others. It means to genuinely hold others interests about your own.

Just think about that a second.

Genuinely holding the interests of others above your own.

I don’t know about you, but often when I am in a conversation – particularly with someone who I haven’t seen for a number of days or weeks and maybe even someone I am keen to impress – often times, as they are talking, I am thinking in my head which thing to share about myself next.

Which client should I share that we have won for our business?

Which board should I share that I am sitting on now?

When should I share how big our church is? Or how we are developing our work in the community?

If we genuinely hold the interests of others above our own, we are less about trying to convince, impress, and create a good impression and far more about listening, investing, and valuing others.

The attitude of holding the interests of others above ourselves will affect our thinking, our actions, and will take us deeper in our relationship with God and deeper in our relationship with those around us.

Thomas a Kempis once said, “To have no opinion of ourselves, and to think always well and highly of others, is great wisdom and perfection.”

This is not about self pity, or self loathing. That is not what God has for us. This is about loving ourselves and loving God so much that we are free to love, prioritise and value those around us.

One of the things I most love about Jesus was that he was a rebel and a revolutionary. And when we look at the teaching of Jesus, his most radical social teaching was the total reversal of the contemporary notion of greatness.

He said that true leadership was to be found in becoming the servant of all.

In Phil 2:8, it says “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

But it was not only in death that Jesus understood what it mean to deny himself, he modelled and taught it throughout his life.

He lived this out by being willing to talk seriously to women (when in the culture they were marginalised and largely ignored), he spoke with children, he washed the disciples feet, he ate with tax collectors.

He went out of his way to submit to those who society ignored. He gave them value. He gave them life. He gave them freedom.

Jesus message was that no longer was leadership about power and self-interest, but rather this was the new order of self-denial, active service, and radical love.

We need to deny ourselves and submit because Jesus did.

1 Peter 2:21-23 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his footsteps….when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted in him who judges justly.”

We are commanded to live a life of submission because Jesus lived a life of submission. In Colossians 3, it says wives and husbands should submit to one another, parents and children, masters and slaves.

It is not because of your social standing, your sex, or your age that you submit. It is because Christ submitted and gave us the example.

Looking at that passage in Colossians, the wives, the children and the slaves in that culture had no voice. They were given no freedom. In that context when we read that Paul was asking them to submit to their husbands, parents, and masters – it assumed they had a choice, it gave them free will, it restored value for them as human beings.

Submission gives us value. It gives us purpose and it gives us freedom.

However, submission is not blind. It is not stupid and careless. There are limits on submission – namely the point at which it becomes destructive.

If it is contrary to the law of love that Jesus presented, then it is contrary to genuine Biblical submission.

Submission reaches the end of its tether when it becomes destructive.

Sometimes the limits of submission are easy to identify (injustice, abuse) and sometimes those limits are more difficult to identify – and that is where we need the help and discernment of the Holy Spirit to show us.

We must first submit to God and to His word. Only through submission can we know His heart, discern His voice, and go deeper in relationship with Him.

But we must also submit in our family situations, to our neighbours, to other followers of Jesus Christ, to the broken, the despised, the least, the last, and the lost, and then we must submit to the world.

We must be determined to live as a responsible member of an increasingly irresponsible world.

So, to sum up….we need to learn the discipline of submission.

You are not called to be a doormat, a people pleaser, someone dependant on others for your sense of worth, and certainly not a manipulator.

To submit is to deny yourself. To prioritise others.

To submit is to be free from the bitterness and anger of not having what you perceive you should have.

Submitting means obey Jesus, it will take us deeper in our relationship with the Father and we will increasingly discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in our relationships.

Revolutionary subordination commands us to live in submission to human authority, however it cannot become destructive.

Only in submission can we learn what it means to serve. And it is only as we serve that we will learn to love. And it is only when we love that we will learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.