If you are following along in Celebration of Discipline, we have now moved into the discipline of submission which is our focus for the month of July. Richard Foster begins this chapter with talking about how the idea of submission has been distorted and misused. He reminds us that the purpose of the spiritual disciplines is freedom, not obsessive focus on the discipline itself, but the freedom that comes from incorporating the discipline in our daily lives. Foster also says that every discipline has a corresponding freedom associated with it. For the discipline of submission, the freedom that we gain is what Foster refers to as the “the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way.”
Jesus taught a radical view of submission that was to be mutual – not subordinate or superordinate. In His teaching, our identity comes from our relationship with Him – being a child of God and follower of Christ. In that identity, all who are followers are equal regardless of their station in life. For instance, Jesus taught women and welcomed little children into His presence, two very subordinate groups in His time.
Jesus’ statement that we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (see Mark 8:34) is the lens we are to understand submission through. It’s important to note that this self-denial is not about losing our own identity or hating ourselves. In Jesus’ teaching, denying ourselves is the way to truly find ourselves, becoming who we were created to be.
What does submission mean to you? What images does it bring to mind?
Executive Director of Education and Outreach