Independence and autonomy are classic American virtues. The more I search the Scriptures, the less I see these as Biblical virtues. Rather, what I see in the Scriptures below is that God wants us to be submitted to Him. Indeed, this is what it means to be a Christian—to believe in Jesus and His Lordship and to submit ourselves to Him in worship out of a heart of love for Him. We cannot have this without humbling ourselves before Him. Submitting ourselves to Him means submitting to His Word in all things. I am starting to see that it also means submitting ourselves to His Body, as the Scriptures below indicate. Our submission to one another in general and our submission to one another within the authority structures that He has given us are to be out of reverence for Christ. A few implications of this are:
1) Our submission to others is secondary to our primary reverence for Christ. Because our submission to each other is rooted in our primary reverence for Christ, we are never called to “submit” to anyone in a way that would cause us to dishonor Christ;
2) Our submission to one another in general and our submission to one another within the authority structures that God has given us in Scripture are vital ways in which we submit to Christ Himself! This makes sense when we consider that how we treat one another in the Body is how we treat Christ Himself;
3) In our submission to one another in general and to one another within the authority structures that God has given us, we are imaging and honoring Christ who is in perfect submission to God the Father for all eternity.
4) We serve and bless others by submitting to one another by lovingly sacrificing ourselves in the interests of others.
5) We are served and blessed by others as we submit to them. Because of the deceitfulness of our hearts and our sin, we need our brothers and sisters to remind us of the Scriptures and to help us apply the Scriptures to our lives. We are in dangerous territory as isolated or “self-sufficient” Christians. Hebrews 13:12-13 “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
6) Submission to one another is a way that we humble ourselves before God, but it is also a way that God cultivates sanctification and Spiritual fruit in us. When we walk in the light by exposing our hearts to one another, inviting others to speak into our lives, and living in accountability, we experience growth. Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron,and one man sharpens another.”
Here are some Scriptures that talk about submission to one another:
Ephesians 5:15-21 “5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
Colossians 3:15-17 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Hebrews 13:7-19 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. 19 I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.”
Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
Ephesians 6:5-8 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”
1 Peter 3:1-6 “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
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