More American than Apple Pie
Submission is not a popular topic in today’s world. The American spirit is all about individualism and blazing our own trail, not falling in line behind someone else’s orders. We all love rags to riches stories; where a nobody revolts against the norm and ends up changing the world. We idolize rebelling against the established ways of doing things, and our nation’s most popular holiday is called “Independence Day.” We are free, and we are not going to let anybody tell us what we need to do with our lives.
That way of thinking is so deeply ingrained in America that it even triumphs over baseball and apple pie, and, to a certain extent, it isn’t wrong. We are free. That is how this nation was set up, and how God intended it. That is what Christ died for: to set us free. But we were not set free just for the sake of being free. We were set free so we could choose who we wanted our master to be. To choose what we were going to submit to. And hopefully, in that freedom, make the right choice. So yes, freedom is important, but only when it is framed properly in the context of submission. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
As Christians, we understand how we need to act by looking at who God is. God’s very nature is good, and so when we imitate Him, we reflect that goodness. In fact, we were made in His image, so the way God acts and instructs us to act serves like an owner’s manual for us as human beings (Genesis 1:26). In the Trinity of God, we see a picture of relationship, unity, and submission, that is reflected in us to the very deepest extent of our beings. The Godhead consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are three distinct personages, who are not one another, but are wholly God. They are equal but lovingly submit to one another (Philippians 2:6).
We see that same concept of the trinity at work in us. The Bible constantly references that we should worship God with all of our heart, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27) or all of our body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The body, or the strength, is the physical portion of us that we can see and touch. The soul, or mind, is the cognitive machine that we use to think and make choices. The spirit, or the heart, is the emotional side where we feel and experience life. There is a sense of our full being in those three things. They are distinct, but each one could be said to be us. That is why, when someone dies, we can look at the body and say that is so-and-so, and have it be true, but also know that the life, or the spirit and soul, is no longer present with it.
That whole idea becomes even truer when we turn it totally on its head and use it as a lens to look at who God is. We see that Christ, the physical incarnation of God, represents the body (John 1:14); that the Holy Spirit, who knows the thoughts of God and moves us to action, represents the spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11); and that our Father, who designs and plans everything, represents the soul (Proverbs 16:9, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Matthew 24:36). All together they are one, but they are still separate. So we were designed to reflect both the nature and the distinctiveness of the Trinity within ourselves.
But what effect does that have on our submission, both externally and internally? If we are designed in the image of God and function best when imitating Him, then we need to submit our members to one another in the same way that the Trinity does. The Son submits to the Father (John 6:38), and the Spirit to the Son (Matthew 14:26). Likewise, we need to submit our bodies to our minds (1 Corinthians 9:27), and our spirits to our bodies (1 Corinthians 14:32-33). There is a place for all of these things, thinking, acting, and emoting, but they need to submit to one another.
Human beings are built to plan in the mind, carry out that plan in the body, and rejoice in the completion of that plan in the spirit. If we get those things out of order, then we will fail to accomplish anything that God desires for us. If the needs of the body come first then all we will do is indulge ourselves in our basic needs; apathy and laziness will take over. If the needs of the spirit go first then we will have all the energy and passion in the world, but it will be without an outlet; we will quickly become frustrated with a lack of results and give up. But when we subdue the body to the plans God has set in our minds and wisely use the energy of the spirit to fill it, then all will fall into place as it is properly balanced. This is the way God intended it and the way we function best.
This concept goes much deeper than this, and we will continue to explore it over the coming days. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!
With the love of Christ,
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days…