Confessions of a Fool

Submission isn’t a popular topic or concept in our society. To be honest, I don’t really like talking about submission either (unless, of course, the submission in question is someone submitting to me).

But the Bible talks about it frequently. Let me begin with a quote I read this week. Russell Moore is a pastor whose blog I read from time to time and he had this to say to a teenager asking about obeying his parents:

“Submission, after all, isn’t to things one readily sees as good ideas; that’s called ‘agreement.’ Submission is often in matters in which one thinks one knows better.”

Which begs the question which we’ll answer quickly – What specifically does the Bible say about submission?

Psalm 81:11 tells us that the fundamental error of God’s people is to refuse to submit – “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.”

Romans 8:7 says to submit to God’s law like a man of the spirit, not rebel against it like the man of the flesh – “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

Ephesians 5:20-21 tells us that we are to submit to our fellow Christian brothers and sisters – “…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Ephesians 6:1 and 1 Timothy 3:4 tell us that children are to obey and submit to their parents.

Hebrews 13:17 commands us to obey our church leaders – “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.”

Submitting is difficult because it requires us to admit we need help. That’s not very American, in fact, the American ideal of independence and self-sufficiency only encourages the egomania that already exists within me in the first place. But God commands us to submit to certain people because it is best for us.

(As an aside – if as parents we speak more in this manner, that children are to submit because God loves them and knows what’s best for them…and thus has intentionally placed people in charge of their care for their good, we’d probably get far better responses from them. It beats “you’ll obey me because I’m your father and that’s how it works.”)

Which finally brings me back to the Russell Moore quote. I don’t struggle with submission mostly because I have self-discipline issues. I struggle with submission because I’m hard-headed and hard-hearted. I think I know better.

When I was under my parents’ roof I was often angry at their decisions and “meddling” in my life. After all, if I wanted to go to that party, or that movie, I should be able to. And why did I have to always let them know where I was, and who was there with me, and whether or not parents were present? Why did they need to ask so many questions about my friends?

At the time I despised all of this (as nearly all teens do at one point or another), because I knew better. I knew what was best for me and I knew what level and type of temptation I could handle.

But the fact is that I was a fool. I was immature and arrogant. I thought I was wise, but I was steeped in folly.

And yet now when the Bible commands me to submit to one another, and to his word, and to my leaders, I often make the same mistake I did when I was 16.

I am far more foolish and in need of help than I realize. Thus I need to submit. And not just to the things I agree with – that’s called agreement.

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