Friday, February 24, 2006

True Submission

Why do we care for babies? Why do we tend to their every cry or noise and watch intently for their smile? We observe them as they feed, burp and clean up their messes. When bathing them, we're extra careful so that they don't slip into the tub. Babies are so cute, tiny and helpless, that we can easily find ourselves catering to their every whim. In so doing, we subordinate (or submit if you will) our inclinations and desires to their schedule; sometimes we even forgo our own needs -- like sleep, and adult social interaction. Naturally we don't think of what we do for babies as submission, after all, babies are cute and lovable and besides, we usually take delight in their responsive coos and smiles. But, if we ever really paused to think of how much we prioritize our lives around them, we'd be amazed (many men wouldn't because this is their very complaint). In choosing to place our needs after the needs of these little "persons," we do so because they cannot care for themselves. Yet, if we were to evaluate our thoughts, intents and actions in light of Agape-love, we'd probably find that the care we give the little ones is done not so much because we have only their best interest at heart, but because we expect to receive something in return. That something may be a smile, the platitudes of others, the internal recognition and pleasure of doing a good job or a myriad of other reasons. Never the less, in and of ourselves, our nature is selfish, and only as our motives are purified from self -- by the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence, can our thoughts, intents and actions be unselfish. It's because self finds so many "worthy" modes of _expression, that we are often deceived into thinking that what we're doing, we're doing out of unconditional, self-denying love. While pleasure derived from interaction with a baby isn't wrong, we may be merely caring for the baby precisely because we receive pleasure, and thinking, "if I don't, who will? Friends, submitting or subordinating our wants, desires and even needs to those of babies or helpless others, is not in the truest sense what is meant by biblical submission.

As the lesson states, true submission is humbly placing oneself (as in kneeling) before another person on the basis of voluntary choice. This is a principle that began with Christ. We read in Philippians 2: 5-8)

Philippians 2: 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Philippians 2: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Philippians 2: 7 But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Philippians 2: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Christ, who was equal to God, made Himself a servant to help those who could not help themselves -- that is us. To do this He submitted Himself to His Father's authority working through His indwelling Spirit. Without the indwelling Holy Spirit, we -- who are lesser than the angels -- think ourselves above and greater than God and in need of no help because we believe we have all we need or at the very least can get it if we need it badly enough. What a contrast between Christ's concept of submission, and ours! Although our reasoning and belief system is faulty, there is hope for us.

When we accept Christ by Faith, we are in effect submitting to the Spirit just as He did. Through the Holy Spirit's indwelling, the mind of the Christ becomes ours and we estimate ourselves as He does; we see ourselves naked, wretched, poor and blind. We realize our helplessness and the helplessness of others without Him. We realize how much we as human beings need Him. Seeing others as helpless babies desperately needing our help, we are enabled to submit to the Holy Spirit's pleading on their behalf and to plead with Him for their salvation.

True submission, a derivative of Agape, leads us to consistently think of, and do what is best for others, even if it involves personal sacrifice for us. Consider Jacob walking in the wilderness with all his family. Jacob turns down his brother's invitation to go together to the land of Seir. We read in Genesis 33: 12-14,

Genesis 33: 12 And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.
Genesis 33: 13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.
Genesis 33: 14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.

Jacob submitted to his wives and children by going as far and as fast as they could go. What a contrast to husbands of today who, because they are making good time, won't stop their cars so their families can stretch their legs and use the restroom. It is in the spirit of the mind of Christ that we should consider others who do not perform to the standards we think they should. Folks, we are all helpless; some are aware of their need and others are blinded to it. Helpless, we all need to cast our souls on Christ, for without His submission to the will of His Father, where would we be? Friends, let's not mistake the temporary selfish submission or subordination of our needs for another, as the true ongoing submission of our will to God. True submission involves having the mind-set of Christ, "who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and made in the likeness of men -- being found in fashion as a man -- He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes
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