This is going to be another 5-book post just like last week, for the same basic reason... but a long talk with KC on related subjects has helped me resolve some issues, which leads me to typing this at 3 AM. And again this week the whole thing stars basically at the end- in I Peter. You see, this week is all about your favorite topic- submission. What, not your favorite? No wonder God felt He needed to go on about it for so long!
Frankly, none of us like to submit on practically everything. But if Christ is to be our example, this is what He exemplified- submission to the Father to take on human form, submission to death on the Cross- two ways we will probably never be asked to submit. But our writers this week- Paul, James, Peter, and whomever actually composed Hebrews- found many other examples we need to go by.
In the first 12 verses of first Peter, he goes into the concept of submitting this life, the now, for the next, the future. This may seem the same concept, but there is a subtle split. This life for the next being to set anything in this world as a second best for what we earn in heaven; the now for the future reminds us that while some of us may see that future on this side of life, most of us won't- and like the ancients who awaited salvation in the form of Jesus, we must be patient in awaiting the Promise, and not expect all the best in this life. This kind of picks up some of the threads in the other books as well. In Philemon, for example, we see Paul preaching and saving the escaped slave of a buddy. Paul says he'd really like to keep Onesimus (the slave) there with him. But he submits his authority for the greater good- the honorable thing of Allowing Philemon his legal decision and Onesimus his chance to redeem his sin. Onesimus has to then submit his freedom to do so. Sometimes we have freedom in this world; sometimes, we work our way into having authority. Paul shows that both must be submitted for the greater good- both here and in the next life.
From chapter one v 13 to 21, Peter brings in the concept of submitting one's conduct, to "be holy as I am holy". This gets fleshed out in James, where most of chapter three is the expounding about that wicked tongue. But before that James hits some other highlights as well. In 1:6, he advises us to pray "in faith, with no doubt". In 1:21-2, he advises we lay down our filthy rags and be doers of the word. Chapter two down to v 13 talks of the need to submit our judgment and pick up mercy. And the rest of chapter two dwells on faith plus works. So that conduct we need to be doing involves the submitting of doubt for faith, sin for obedience, judgment for mercy, and finally, our bodies for good works. In other words, our skeptical attitudes for a faithful outlook.
The last two of which lead into Peter's next subjection, which he covers in 1:22-25, that of submitting love of self for "sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart." The flip side of this is where he goes on to describe us as "living stones" used to build Christ's temple, being a "chosen people" rather than the free agency we like to believe we have. And this leads into his submission of "fleshly lusts which war against your soul, having your conduct honorable among the gentiles..." Giving up sin not just because it offends God, but giving up fleshly desires in order that others may be drawn to Christ by your example. Is all of this getting complicated? Actually, it is just different facets of just a few simple concepts.
In Titus, Paul admonishes his young fellow worker about submitting to masters: in chapter two, vv 9-10, he says to exhort servants to be obedient to their masters, mentioning three qualities-
-not answering back;
-and be honest.
At the start of chapter three, he mentions being submitted to political rulers too, embracing similar qualities:
- obey them;
-speak evil of no one;
-and being peaceable, gentle, and humble.
In summary, our attitude when faced with authority is to be a) obedient, b) of kind words, and c) all the qualities that go into being honorable. You see me having trouble here, do you not? And yet, Peter goes on to ask us to respect our rulers "that by doing good we put to silence the ignorance of foolish men", and our masters (IOW bosses) because that is "commendable before God". And God realizes that we deserve commendation for putting up with many of them.
Finally, Peter hits on submission of husbands and wives- the wives, that they may win their husbands "without a word"; the husbands treating the wives "with understanding, giving honor to the wife as the weaker vessel, and AS BEING HEIRS TOGETHER OF THE GRACE OF LIFE, that your prayers may not be hindered." Guys, do you get what all of this means?
-Treat with understanding- means you have to see things from her eyes as well as your own;
-with honor, recognizing that the lion's share of life's burdens are yours;
-"as heirs together", as the leader of an EQUAL partnership;
-and that failure to do so WILL effect your relationship with God.
So where does the central book, Hebrews, come in? That as our ultimate example, Jesus gets all things submitted to Him- AFTER He submitted all for us. So when you feel like saying to God, "When do I get mine?", you know the answer- AFTER you give it.
Wow, that's a lot of submitting. But it can really be simpled down to some basic ideas:
-Submit your works to God;
-submit the "me" for the" everyone else";
-submit the now for the forever.
If you get them covered, the rest will come easy!