Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Discipline of Submission

As Dan and I continue to plow through Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster, I've finally come to a chapter where I feel like I'm doing OK - but just OK, not great.

Here's the best way I can wrap up Foster's definition and position on submission:

Do you know the liberation that comes from giving up your rights? It means you
are set free from the seething anger and bitterness you feel when someone
doesn't act toward you the way you think they should.

The only reason I can say I'm doing OK in this area is because I've had the trait passed on to me by my mother. My mom is the last person to force her own agenda or needs on anyone. Unless it becomes a matter of safety for her or someone she loves, my mom will always relent her will to somebody else.

The trouble I have with submission is that, while it comes somewhat naturally to me, it is SO opposed to the culture we live in. Some who read the previous paragraph about my mom probably had a very negative reaction. I understand that reaction because even as I was writing it I was asking myself questions like, "Is it really a good thing to let others dictate my agenda?" or "Is it really a good thing to always relent my will to others?"

The culture we live in has become so "Me First" that submission to others seems incredibly weak - to the point of being pitiable.

But Foster explains how Jesus went against the cultural norms of His day, as did the disciples and Paul. They served people far below them in social standing. Paul, by telling slaves and wives to submit to their masters and husbands, recognized the difference between being subservient and submissive. Often subservience is/was forced upon people, but submission is a choice.

Foster also points out that submission has its limits, and that's why I said my mom would almost always relent to others. Submission reaches its limit when it becomes destructive.

It them becomes a denial of the law of love as taught by Jesus and is an
affront to genuine Biblical submission (Matt. 5, 6, and 7 and especially

As he does throughout the book, Foster gives some practical points on submission. Here are the 7 entities to whom we ought to be submissive:
1. God
2. Scripture
3. Our Family
4. Our neighbors and those we meet in the course of our daily lives
5. The believing community
6. The broken and despised
7. The world

Take a few minutes and think about what it might mean in your life to submit to all of the above. For me, numbers 6 & 7 seemed the most challenging. Looks like I've got some work to do if I'm going to move beyond just OK!

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