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Submission is integral to what God wants of a man.
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
As a man my life is not my own to take wherever I want and do with it whatever I will. When Christ comes to me His words are short and deep, “follow me.” At the very core of being a Christian man is submission.
My job is not mine. “doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Eph 4:28) “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim 5:8) My job is for the provision of others. It is not about my personal scaling of the corporate ladder to have a successful career for a career sake. It is to provide for my family and for others. That is Christ’s plan for my job. It does not matter whether it is growing a multimillion dollar company or fixing pipes. If it does the task Christ has for it my job is successful.
My family is not mine. My family is not here to fulfill my desires and wants. The husband has a central aim, “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph 5:25) The Father has a clear command, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph 6:3). All this makes the point that the family does not belong to me. I am submitted to the goal God wants for them.
My body is not mine. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:19-20) My body is not mine to do with what I want. My sexual drive is not mine to command or be command by. My body is submitted to the Lordship of Christ.
My plans are not mine. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15) This life is not mine to determine what I want to do and where I want to live. I am not setting my face towards the peak of my goals and going there no matter what. My life is in submission.
Men have distinct roles to play in this world. But these distinct roles are framed in the context of submission. We don’t create them or determine how they are suppose to be preformed.
Some want to construct the perception that when one speaks of roles the man gets the position of self serving leadership where the woman is given the role of subservient submission. This is a false perception of what the bible wants.
God’s Word does not call jerks to lead. It calls submitted men to lead. Only when a man is submitted is he capable of leading well.
Every call to leadership and courage is call to submission. Not to the whims and personal desires of the man the call goes to. But to the Lord who gives the call to act in accordance with His Spirit and for His glory. To be a man means one is submitted to the Lord.
It is God’s unique identity which requires worship of him alone. Worship of other beings is inappropriate because they do not share in this unique identity.
Jews understood their practice of monolatry [worship of one God] to be justified, indeed required, because the unique identity of YHWH was so understood as to place him, not merely at the summit of a hierarchy of divinity, but in an absolutely unique category, beyond comparison with anything else.
-Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 12.
God has identity. This may seem very elementary but it is a very starling fact in this day and age. To most God is either far off and nebulous or a pattern of their own desires. There is nothing definitive about him/her/it.
As the Jews in the midst of pagan polytheism believed so we as Christians believe: God has an identity. He is somebody. Just like we each have our own identity which is not modeled by someone else’s desires so The Lord has a distinct identity.
This means, at first point, that what one believes about God really doesn’t mean anything. What matters is who God IS. Belief is grounded upon the actual identity of who God is. As Frances Schafer famously said we don’t have “faith in faith” we are to have faith in an actual being who has a definite identity. Our faith does make God. Our faith rest upon what YWHW has declare Himself to be, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7).
The second major point is that we do not decide that God is worthy of worship. His identity demands He is the only one worthy of worship. Where as the presents of our identities is a reflection of His identity categorically His identity is totally separate and unique. Our response is to be that of Moses after hearing YWHW reveal Himself, “And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped” (Exodus 34:8). So distinct and majestic is the Lord’s identity it is appropriate to worship Him alone.
Calling people to worship the Lord, then, is not seeking an exchange of personal preference. It calling people to quit the wrong practice of worshiping what does not deserve worship and to rightly worship Him who deserves it.
Just as faithful Jews stood alone in their world with their belief so we carry on the practice in claiming there is only one Lord and He alone is worthy of worship.
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Phil 2:2-3)
The beauty of community is essential for Paul. The oneness of thought and love that that community is to have is what makes Paul’s heart very glad.
What is one of the greatest dangers to this community? Interesting enough it is not everyone having the same Ts crossed and the same Is dotted. Paul doesn’t move from the desire of unity to having people dress the same, act the same, think the same, and like the same things. He doesn’t even move into doctrine. Instead he moves underneath it all to what supports lives of godliness and doctrines of truth.
The sinful self is exposed as the greatest danger to community. “Selfish ambition or conceit” is the poison of community. It is the person who does not see the imperfect church as sinners like himself but messed up people who have crazy ideas. It is the person who looks down on those who do not have the education he has and disregards their contributions to the discussion. When one’s “service” in the church is about recognition and self promotion instead of real service. Theological study that is not about helping others see the beauty of Christ but about proving oneself right over others. Writing off people who have studied at seminary because they are probably “bookworms” and know nothing of true spiritual power. And thousands of others ways the self seeks its own ambitions and own exaltation. Both heresies and godlessness have come from this.
In contrast to this, I have to ask myself a question when living with my brothers and sisters of Christ. Is what I am doing or planning on doing aimed at lifting them up? Or is it about lifting me up? Christ is clear about which one I am suppose to be aiming for. Their interests and their needs are to be over mine. All the way from theological studies and discussions to inviting people to lunch all are to have this founding aim.
And when I am seeking this, I am going to land in orthodoxy and godliness. It is the humble that fear The Lord and listen to His Word. It is the humble that seek to please The Lord in all they do. By His grace this can be sought after.
…it was actually not Jewish but Greek philosophical categories which made it difficult to attribute true and full divinity to Jesus. A Jewish understanding of divine identity was open to the inclusion of Jesus in the divine identity. But Greek philosophical – Platonic – definitions of divine substance or nature and Platonic understandings of the relationship of God to the world made it extremely difficult to see Jesus as more than a semi-divine being, neither truly God not truly human. In the context of the Arian controversies, Nicene theology was essentially an attempt to resist the implications of Greek philosophical understandings of divinity and re-appropriate, in a new conceptual context, the New Testament’s inclusion of Jesus in the unique divine identity.
Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 58.
Remember this the next time you hear people talking about Nicene “Platonizing” the faith. The exact oppose actually happened. They used Greek language to capture the doctrine. But they were actually resisting the “Platonizing” of the faith by keeping the doctrine of Christ to what it was revealed to be by the Apostles. If you want to get the full picture I would recommend Bauckham’s work, God Crucified, where he explores how the earliest Christians understood Jesus in very high Christological terms.
For you have died and you life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory. (Col 3:3-4)
May this year bring you a increased knowledge and wonder of the salvation that is yours in Christ!
There is no need to resort to any false helps and assurances which we devise with our own minds (Col 2:20-23). Instead look up to where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God and set your mind there. For that is where you are truly are (Col 3:1-2)! Let your thoughts dwell there. Meditating on the glories, the hope, the treasures, the truth, the love, the justice, the holiness which is there. Think of Christ!
You have died and entered into the new life of Christ, hidden with Him ( v3-4). The past year does not define you. The sins that you stumble into again and again do not define you. You do not reside in the muck of this world. The brokenness, the heartache, the turmoil is not where you will reside forever. You reside beside God the Father in the place of authority and glory!
Grace unimaginable has swept you up, killing your old self and giving a new self on you (v9-10), and now giving you life eternal. This coming year is a year where you get to becoming ever increasing like the image of the one you are hidden in (v10). The old self with it condemnation is so put off that it is dead. This year you get to walk as God’s chosen one, holy and beloved! (v12)
The year before us is a happy for those hidden in Christ!