From the pulpit

Published 4:58 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The word is submission. In a dictionary we might find the following definition and accompanying synonyms: yielding to power, control or authority of another –– obedience and humbleness.

I dare say that none of these words is particularly attractive to our thinking. Who among us wants to give ourselves over to the power, authority or control of another? Who among us wants to surrender much of anything about ourselves, our power or our possessions?

Submission is not a word used with great excitement.

The world has a certain reflex to weak words like submit. We don’t use them. We go to great lengths to live a life that is polar from submission.

Words like submission and her close cousins surrender, obedience and humbleness put the follower of Jesus in precarious positions sometimes. We are commanded by our Lord to live life differently than the world’s siren call beckons. In a world where might is regarded as right, Jesus commands us to turn the other cheek. In a world where revenge is seething just under the surface, Jesus tells people to forgive their enemies and pray for those who do harm. In a world where the one with the most toys wins, Jesus tells his followers t sell all that they have and distribute the proceeds to the poor and then follow him. In a world where we try to avoid responsibility and lay down burdens, particularly the burdens of others, Jesus commands us to take up a cross.

There’s hardly an instance of Jesus’ life and teaching where submission is ignored. If you save your life you lose your life. But, if you lose your life for the sake of the gospel, your life will be found. That gymnastic is impossible without submission to the Lord. Blessed are those who are persecuted for my sake and for the sake of the gospel. There is no blessedness in persecution unless one has submitted their understanding of happiness to the Lord. Build up treasure in heaven. Don’t waste time and energy building up treasure on earth where that treasure rusts, rots, corrodes, and is susceptible to theft. Well, unless one has submitted to God’s definition of value, there isn’t any good word in that teaching.

We enjoy calling ourselves Christians. But, we mostly try to be Christians minus the hard decisions, the difficult teachings, and the wildly revolutionary philosophies of peace, justice, and love that Jesus commands. We just can’t quite submit to that. Why? Well, maybe because we have been taught all along that submission is an ugly word. Or, maybe because we aren’t willing to entertain the cost of not merely being a Christian, a believer in Jesus as the Christ, but being a submissive, obedient and humble follower of Jesus.