Submission is a dirty word to contemporary ears. It has considerably more than four letters, but often gets a more negative reaction than its abbreviated counterparts. We think it means defeat, which it doesn’t unless we are submitting to a loser. Luckily we already know who the Winner in time and eternity is, so we need not suffer that embarrassment. Much to the distaste of defiant grumblers, Jesus never loses.
Still, the world wants us to feel self-conscious for simply believing God and doing what He commands. They think that instinctive submission is naive and they proceed to endlessly question every biblical truth. We open the Bible and read, “What God has joined together, let not man separate.” They condescendingly query, “What if they aren’t happy together; should they be trapped in an unhappy marriage forever because of one bad decision?” We not only listen to their questions but allow them to introduce wobbly doubt into our minds. We feel unsure and move on to something that seems more clear like, “He created them male and female.” How could anyone argue with that, it’s a biological fact? Yet this doesn’t stop them from paraphrasing “Did God really say?” and declaring sex to be a feeling you have instead of a body you were given. We are shamed into wondering if we have made some great error by assuming God’s simple statement is true, like we don’t have all the facts or didn’t ask enough questions. We just believed it because it was written on the page. How silly.
Did God really say? is the mantra of the unbelieving life. It is not an incantation that should be heard from our lips. Don’t let their devious questioning unsettle you. There is no reason to be embarrassed by the Word of the Lord. It is right for our speech to mimic the words of the virgin Mary, “Be it done to me according to your word.” Speaking these words trains us to be fluent in faithful action. Looking to saints of the past, we notice David suffered no small amount of trouble for believing God. In spite of all the trouble his kingly anointing caused early in his life, David still declared to God: “Thy word is true from the beginning.”
Copping an Attitude (of Unbelief)
God’s word is true from the beginning all the way to the end. In a world where humans can’t even discern the simplest categories of boys and girls, God’s word is still true. Those who believe it will be vindicated when all things come to light. This believing attitude doesn’t curtail honest questions. Jesus, during His ministry, took the time to bring humble questioners to understanding. The Samaritan woman at the well is a good example. She had a candid conversation with Jesus about the thirst her wayward lifestyle was producing and the living water that would quench it. It often takes courage and persistence to ask needed questions to ensure we are understanding His word correctly, but the attitude of our questioning still matters.
The Pharisees often asked Jesus questions intended to entrap Him, and He didn’t hesitate to call them a brood of vipers, using verbal jabs to expose their unbelief. If we routinely pose, pharisaical questions with unbelieving hearts, hoping to prove His word wrong or wiggle out of its demands, we should wake up and note whether we are a slithering member of the brood. When we marinate in uncertainty, we are likely to soak up the notion that simply agreeing with God will get us in an embarrassing jam. It isn’t true, even if the world mocks what He says.
We commonly refer to ourselves as Believers, but we should be careful that Doubters isn’t a more accurate description of how we handle His word. The only reason we feel shame for humbly submitting to the word of the King of kings is that we do not know Him. Mary knew Who she was submitting to, and when the angel spoke God’s word, she received it joyfully even though it brought her considerable inconvenience.
Submission & Strength
Mary wasn’t the only one in the story who listened and obeyed. Joseph’s acceptance of the angel’s message is astonishing considering his awkward position. When the shepherds heard the Child was come they ran directly to find Him rejoicing in the Good News. The nativity story was wrought by the will of the Lord and we see His people rejoicing in His plan. This kind of peaceful yielding of control is something the world does not understand. Even Jesus declared:
I have come down from heaven,
not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me.
Jesus, God incarnate, speaks of His own submission. Just think about that for a bit; even Emmanuel lived a life of submission.
We know that ultimately all things are brought into submission to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20–28). He is no longer in a position of humility, He is risen and reigning, He is seated at the right-hand of the Father, and His kingdom is being made manifest throughout the earth. These truths are wonderfully encouraging to the hearts of Believers! The call to submit to the rule of the King is going out into all the earth. As His subjects we are commanded to preach the gospel to all the world and teach the nations to obey His commands.
God’s word is still true, and He expects us to believe it! Not only that, He expects us to pray for these things to happen.
In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.—Matthew 6:9–10
The genesis of our prayers is a submissive awe of His magnificent holiness coupled with a humble recognition of the extensive reach of His rule. We are not gods and the extension of our authority is limited—only what He has given to us. The good news is that we serve a King who possesses all authority and, insomuch as we believe His word and obey it, whatever He delegates to us we may expect to be successful in.
His supremacy is a reality and the borders of His kingdom are not hemmed in by the divide between heaven and earth. This doesn’t mean we won’t have to persevere through trouble and persecution and seasons when the harvest may be small or virtually non-existent. The Lord did say that in this world we will have trouble. Those words are just as true as all the rest. But in faith we may see past momentary difficulties and believe in the ultimate victory of Christ’s kingdom knowing that it matters that we faint not in the day of adversity.
Submission to the Word of God will always secure us in a position of strength, for His word has already declared the truth of His victory. The world and the devil cower in fear before the strength of those who simply say to their LORD, “Be it done to me according to Your word.”
This article was first published in Every Thought Captive magazine. SUBSCRIBE HERE.