This morning’s devotional readings got me to thinking about a couple of things, that relate to what is going on in our world, or more to the point, in our country.
First, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Pet 2: 13-15, 17, NASB).
Submission is a difficult concept for us to consider. In this postmodern world, we have been conditioned to reject any semblance of being subjected to another person. We are so full of ourselves, and we preach constantly that “self-esteem” is the number one priority for each of us. What is “self-esteem”? Is it not, realizing that you are just as good as the next person; and just as worthy of love and appreciation as is the next person.
We have been taught that submission is being a doormat, that people can walk on and clean their feet with. Now that I think about it, perhaps this explains why the divorce rate, and inability of employees to get along with bosses, and employers is so high. I sense, also, there is a modicum of lack of trust in others, that exacerbates our prejudice against submission, or submitting. It probably doesn’t help any, that the term “submission” conjures up images of people being tied up, whipped, humiliated, and treated as scum of the earth. Yeah, what healthy ideas we have pertaining to submitting.
Should we ever go back to the basics, we would find listed in the book of Psalms, this passage: “But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another” (75:7, NASB). How unfair! It is God who chooses who is to be leader over another? Doesn’t He understand how devastating that can be to our psyche, and our self-esteem? Ah, perhaps now we have gotten to the heart of our rejection of submission…we don’t trust God! We just cannot believe He has our best interests in mind, when He places someone over us.
Secondly, we are called to “honor all people…honor the king”. Actually, this goes hand-in-hand with submitting. When I refuse to submit to another, to accept my place in the scheme of things, I cannot in all true honesty give honor to another; especially because I feel I deserve the honor more. You see, it can become a tiring, endless circle of trying to be better, and more deserving than others. Yet, God calls us to accept our position, realizing that He has placed us just where He wants us. Jesus is the Great Emancipator, He is the ultimate Savior; yet, he got to His position by submitting to the will of God.
The Apostle Paul adjures us to “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look our for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of me. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights inb the world“ (Phil 2:3-8, 13-15, NASB).
Ah, so that’s it…we are in training mode here on earth for a life that is far more better than we could ever imagine; but are we interested in making the grade, or is self-esteem more exciting?
Finally, I consider the thought of love. Where is love in this ole world? God calls us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (Deut 6:4).” Jesus goes one step further by calling us to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might, and you shall love you neighbor as yourself“ (Matt 22:37, 39).
Methinks, in the event I cannot trust God, in order to submit myself to authorities, then I cannot love God with all my heart, soul and might. If I cannot love God, then I sure am not going to be able to love myself, and you can forget about any love being there for my neighbor. I am too involved in my own personal life to be aware of God working in and through my life. Sure I love my new car, cuz it inflates my self-esteem; I love my beautiful garden, cuz it inflates my self-esteem; I love my job, cuz it inflates my self-esteem. I can’t love God, myself, and my neighbor, cuz it calls me to forget about myself, my self-esteem, and submit myself to God as the ultimate Authority. And so, I struggle, here in this life, trying to get through as much of it as I can under my own power, while felling good about myself.
May God have mercy on our souls.