There, I said it. We can all take a breath and try to recover from this harrowing experience. It is sad we must approach this subject in this way, but considering the cultural influences on the church, it is necessary. This principle is at the core of all things biblical. Without it we have no hope of living faithfully before God. So, how do we learn to submit when we are called upon to do so?
I believe this begins with a proper view of our true nature. When looking back to the beginning of humanity in Genesis 1:26-31, we realize we are subordinate to and fully dependent upon God. As Paul told the Athenian philosophers, “…in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28). Unlike God, we all had a beginning point. God gave us life, and therefore we are obliged to use this life in the ways He directs (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Sadly, people have struggled with keeping their station from the beginning. It was the discontentment Satan stirred in Eve’s previously joyful heart which led to her downfall. When she lost sight of her total dependence upon God, she ceased to submit to the lone restriction He had placed upon the couple. She wanted what God had. She wanted to be her own master. The trouble is, she was incapable of handling such.
The church is being ripped apart by individuals who refuse to submit to the will of God and want more than He has given, the same way Eve did in the beginning. Examples of this range from various innovations in worship such as instrumental music, interpretive dance, laser light shows, etc., to extending leadership roles to women in the church despite clear biblical teaching to the contrary (cf. 1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:8-15), to members and even preachers refusing to submit to the lead of their elders. All of this is steeped in the spirit of rebellion and self-reliance promoted by our culture. We hate restrictions. We want to make our own ways through life.
For many, the notion of submission is equated with weakness and inferiority. However, such is not the case. John 1:1 clearly states that Jesus, the Word, was “…with God and the Word was God.” The implication is that Jesus was on par with the Father. He is God, but He humbled Himself even to the point of dying for those who were once set against Him (Phil. 2:5-11; Jn. 10:17-18; Rom. 5:6-11). He came not to be served, but to serve (Mt. 20:28). So given to service was He that He once got on His hands and knees and washed the nasty feet of His disciples (Jn. 13:2-17). This was an example of what kind of people His disciples should be. If God was willing to get on His hands and knees and greater still suffer the agony of the cross for you and me, what kind of brazen rebels must we be to refuse to be submissive to His will? Will we submit to the King?