“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These are some of the opening words of the Declaration of Independence, and our country is founded upon them. Hundreds of years after the Revolutionary War was won, we still fight for these “unalienable Rights.” We still fight to get or keep what our Declaration of Independence declares is ours by right. I’m not saying that’s bad—Jesus came to set us free.
But. Yes, there is a “but,” one that many political agendas and “This is America, I do what I want’s” despise. These “Creator-given” rights are not given to pursue our own agendas or to stomp on and abuse others. Jesus came to set us free—but not so that we could turn around and do whatever we want. Being free means living not as slaves to sin but rather as servants of God. And that’s where I think we often go wrong. And that’s where the discipline of submission can steer us right.
Richard Foster says in Celebration of Discipline, ““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.” He says, ““In submission we are at last free to value other people. Their dreams and plans become important to us. We have entered into a new, wonderful, glorious freedom—the freedom to give up our own rights for the good of others. For the first time we can love people unconditionally.”
The dictionary definition of submission is, “the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.” Submission is something that, at least in my own circles, we cringe away from. Churches fight and split over the issue of the wife’s submission to her husband. But I think that if we truly look at submission how Jesus did, it isn’t an issue of who has more worth or value as a human. It’s an issue of the last being first and the first being last, of leading by serving and living an unselfish life that humbly resembles Jesus’. When people mutually submit to each other, putting others’ needs above their own, is when we truly glimpse biblical submission.
I’m not saying we should dismantle the American military or that we should obey whatever anyone tells us to like in the movie Ella Enchanted. In fact, Foster says, ““The spirit of self-pity, of martyrdom, is a sure sign that the Discipline of submission has gone to seed.” Being walked all over isn’t submitting; it’s becoming a martyr. Foster says, ““Revolutionary subordination commands us to live in submission to human authority until it becomes destructive.” Submission is simply “the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way.”