Aaron Tomhave (NextGenStudents Blog) assigned me a blog topic: How do we live a life that reflects submission to an Almighty God? That’s a great question. I think we could actually approach it from several perspectives, including providing a “morality checklist” that includes the things we should and should not participate in. Unfortunately, for a lot of people these lists are just that – lists. They don’t necessarily reflect gospel submission and gospel gratitude for the kindness of God displayed by Christ at the cross. Instead, people simply “stay in the lines” while having hearts “So how should we reflect on this question? I think the writer of Hebrews guides us well…
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Heb. 13:15-16)
So I’m going to draw a connection between submission and sacrifice. In fact, it’s interesting to note that right after the author encourages us to “offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,” he transitions to commanding (imperative mood) his readers to obey and submit to their leaders. The context clearly connects sacrifice and submission, so I’m taking the liberty to do so as well.
But I really like the question that Aaron asks because it seeks to know how our lives reflect submission. I think there’s an important assumption that the question reveals, namely that submission to God must be reflected. Perhaps it’d be better to state that our submission to God must be expressed. It’s one thing to say that we submit to God, but if our actions don’t reflect that submission, than can we really say that we’re situated under the Lordship of Christ?
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah dealt with the same issue. In fact, Yahweh spoke through him the following penetrating words:
“… this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me,” (Isaiah 29:13)
You see, everyone knows deep down that it’s far easier to talk the talk than to talk the talk and walk the walk. But that’s what true and biblical worship/submission is. And there I go again, connecting the word “worship” to the word “submission,” which means that I’d also draw a connection to “sacrifice.” You see, it’s all doxology, isn’t it?
I think I’ve established the need to express submission to God. When the apostle James commands Christians to be submitted to God (James 4:7), he immediately tells them to “resist the devil” and to “draw near to God” and to “cleanse [their] hands” and “purify [their] hearts” (James 4:8). All those examples of submission to God are expressed in actions. Therefore, I could answer the question of how we reflect submission to God by saying, “Resist the devil, draw near to God, cleanse your hands, and purify your hearts” and be fine.
But I’m going to just point us to Heb. 13:16’s two guiding expressions: (1) do good and (2) share with others. Don’t be weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9), right? And we should share what God has given us, right? As stewards, right? Or, as Augustine wrote,
“For if a thing is not diminished by being shared with others, it is not rightly owned if it is only owned and not shared.” (On Christian Doctrine 1.1).
Doing good and sharing with others. Doxology 101.
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.