Christian Submission: The Attitude of the Unoffended

Christian Submission,Love,IctheusSubmit.  Submission.  Yield.  These are not popular words in our culture.  All three words have a negative connotation in the English language akin to giving up, loosing, or letting someone else have their way over ours.

And yet any study of the New Testament, and especially those books written by Paul, would show that submission and yielding are necessary and even desirable for a Christian.  Could it be that what Paul is trying to tell us is that submission is actually a good thing?  Could we, in this day and age, stand to learn what it means to be submissive in the context of God’s word?  Let’s look at God’s word and see if we can get a clear answer.

In First Corinthians we find chapter eleven which discusses head coverings, appropriate length of hair and contains verse three which says “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God”.  Sounds like trouble, right?  Not necessarily.

The word “head” that Paul is using here could be more correctly translated as “origin” and in that context it makes more sense to English speakers.  Woman was created by God out of one rib from Adam’s body.  Christ was God put into flesh; literally the Son of God.  But what about all of this in the context of submission?  Hang on, we’re almost there!

Both of the Corinthian letters were written to the church at Corinth and contained some specific instructions for that church in that specific time.  They still contain wisdom and truth that we can apply to our own lives but they must be read with some knowledge of what was taking place in Corinth at that time if we are to really understand what Paul was saying.

Long hair on a man in the Corinthian culture was one sign of a male prostitute.  Likewise, short hair on a woman was one sign for a female prostitute.  Sexual immorality was prevalent in Corinth and Paul’s desire was for the men and women of that church to completely and visibly separate themselves from any appearance of evil.

Although hairstyles on both men and women in our day and time carry no such suggestions of sexual promiscuity we would still do well to distance ourselves from the appearance of evil.  People decide what they think about us long before they decide what they think of our message.  We need to be careful that our appearance does not become a stumbling block for someone else.

In other words, sometimes we need to yield our right to do what we want to do out of love and spiritual concern for someone else.

It is our right to dress and style ourselves as we fit.  However, it is always more important to let love dictate our behavior and attitude.  This is where submission comes into play.  Love yields, not out of weakness, but out of strength of character and concern for the other.

Jesus was our example in this.  Throughout his horrible arrest, trial, torture, and execution he never fought back or exercised his power as God to stop what was happening to Him.  He went to the cross willingly, out of love for us.  He submitted his body to be broken for the greater good of victory over sin and death.

The submission of our will to Jesus Christ is also done with the greater good in mind.  When we live in submission to God, He can then use us for His glory and for our benefit.  The most blessed that we will ever be is when we are living in submission to the will of our Heavenly Father.  And make no mistake, we will live in submission one way or another.

In the sixth chapter of Romans Paul addresses sin in the life of the believer.  16 Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

In three verses Paul shares a simple yet profound fact.  The believer can only live one of two ways.  Either we yield (submit) to flesh, to the old man and to sin or we yield (submit) ourselves to the Spirit and to obedience that leads to righteousness.  There is no middle ground here.

Some of us think (and I did for a long while) that we can be for God, that we can approve of Him and His church and we’ll even attend once in awhile as long as He doesn’t try and muck around in our lives too much.  We’re not practicing overt evil but neither do we want God intruding on our personal time and personal space beyond the minimum.  We’re saved, so isn’t that enough?

Believer, please do not believe that lie.  I know from experience that what Paul says in Romans chapter 6 is absolutely true.  If we aren’t yielded to God then we are yielded to flesh and you know who owns and glorifies the flesh, right?  Trying to pretend that we can get by as a Christian by not yielding to God is just making the evil one’s job that much easier.  We are either submitting ourselves to our Father’s will or we aren’t; it’s just that simple.

So then, I believe we are ready to answer our original question.  If we are submitted to God and His will then submission is a very good and necessary thing.  While submitted to God’s will we gain the strength and love to yield our individual rights for the benefit of those around us, which was what Paul asked the Corinthian believers to do so many years ago.

As for the title of this piece; what is the attitude of the unoffended?  Why love, of course.

Who is Invited to Your House Today?

House of God,Holy Spirit, InfluenceOr do you not know that your body is the (house) of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19 NKJV)

Lately, I have been clued in to a very important fact.  As I began to understand this fact and make changes accordingly, my walk with the Lord has improved dramatically.  Would you like to know what this fact is?  Here it is:  everything that I put into my body has an influence on me.

This includes things like food and drink but also things that I see and hear.

There’s plenty of information available about the effects of eating a diet that is high in fat, sugar and processed food.  Hopefully we all realize by now that such a diet is bad for us and can cause serious long term damage to the bodies that God gave us.  If we eat better we will feel better; that much is known.  But that’s not entirely what this post is about.

Much less is being said about what we choose to see and hear on a daily basis.  As a 21st century person with internet access we have, literally, millions of choices in terms of what we will allow to enter our bodies through our eyes and ears.  And remember, everything we put into our bodies has an influence on us.

As we discovered last week, we are always in submission to something.  We either yield to our flesh and the old man or we yield to the Spirit and produce fruit.  Realizing this, we need to be very careful that the things that we see and hear are encouraging fruit production and not the glorification of the flesh.

Even some seemingly innocent things can be harmful to our walk in the Spirit if they are consumed too much or with the wrong attitude.  Here is an example from my own life:  From January until April of 2013 I read around three fiction books a week.  Being an avid and fairly speedy reader and working in a bookstore meant I had a lot of opportunity and access to all kinds of books.  I even started the year with the goal of reading 100 books; after all, reading is good for you, right?

My mind became filled with the worlds and the characters that I was reading about to the point that I often found myself thinking about the book I was reading or had just finished.  I began to examine the characters and situations in my head and relive my favorite parts.  My head got so cluttered with these things that pretty soon I was barely hearing God at all.  There was simply no room left for him because I was completely preoccupied with fiction.

These weren’t bad books in terms of morals or content.  Many of them were well written and contained some truly upstanding characters.  In short, it wasn’t so much the books themselves that were causing the problem.  It was the amount of them I was reading and how they were causing me to exclude my Lord from my thought life.  I needed more God and less fluff.  And  I believe there are many other Christians out in the world today who need the same thing.

I have a little notebook that I carry around with me so that when I get an idea for the blog or have something I need to remember I can quickly jot it down.  Not too long ago I wrote “the amount of love, joy and peace I experience is in direct proportion to the amount of time I spend with the Holy Spirit“.  To spend time with the Holy Spirit we must be in the right frame of mind and free of distraction.  To make sure we stay in the right frame of mind and live a life that is free of distraction we need to be very careful what we see and hear.  Tomorrow, we will take this idea a little bit further.

Are there any distractions in your life that you have had to cut out recently?   I would love to hear from you!