This isn’t a Bible post, its a reflection. Beware, lots of CAPS and bolds.
Have you ever had a shift of purpose? A time when your actions didn’t change, but YOU did? And then it seems EVERYTHING changes? When I was in college, I had one of these shifts. I was raised a Christian. I know I had that child-like faith that saves. But, I didn’t KNOW Jesus. Jesus, to me, was something I did. I chose Him. I learned about Him. I did good things for Him. I didn’t do bad things for Him.
In college, I read the Bible myself and BELIEVED it. In the middle of that avid reading, I fell in love with doctrine. Not because it was something more I could know, but because I wanted to know more about WHO God is because of Him. One doctrine in particular smacked me hard. God chose me. I wasn’t taught election (If I was, I don’t remember it.) by people or books. I found it myself in the words of Jesus. I knew Jesus loved me. I believed He is the Son of God. But the understanding that He knew me and wanted ME transformed my life. Grace. Outwardly, I still acted Christian. But because my understanding had shifted, I REALLY acted Christian. Does that make sense?
It was no longer duty, it was love. My actions pointed at God because they were birthed in thoughts of God, not thoughts of self. That’s love. Other-orientation. Self forgetfulness. Funny how grace does that. Humans would reason why God deserves our choice. God gives freely regardless of our choice. Reason won’t transform a soul. Free grace does.
Submission is another shift of motive. For years, I submitted to my husband because my mom submitted to dad. Crazy as this sounds, I was kinda competing with her. My husband didn’t help. He’d ask, “Why can’t you treat me like your mom does your dad?” And no, I wasn’t wise enough to NOT answer that. lol. Submission was about how I behaved. It was self focused. I wanted to be the best submissive wife for my husband that I could be! There was love involved. I love him. But for many years, we were both a mess because we were pointing our actions, that were supposed to be wrapped up in the other, back at ourselves. A manipulation dance. I’ll “love” her so I can get my way. I’ll “submit” so he’ll love me and let me get my way. You know what I mean.
BUT. I changed. My husband did too, but he’s not writing. So I’ll tell you how I changed. I didn’t become more or less submissive. Submission just wasn’t my purpose. This was: loving him, hanging out with him, learning to like what he liked, seeing him as a legitimate other that I could intimately know as well as I knew myself. (If this sounds like I have it all together, don’t be fooled. I SO don’t.) I was no longer focused on MY submission, I was focused on HIM.
How did this happen?
In the same way the grace-filled doctrine of election made me choose Jesus all over again in love, equality (not fighting for it, but a genuine belief I am on the same spiritual level as men) taught me submission. I no longer HAD to submit. I wanted to.
A recent email to me put it like this:
“As I think about how I’ve been steeped in “godly womanhood,” I realize that I have told myself over and over to accept that my husband is somehow automatically more… ummmm something, what’s the word? Responsible to God? than I am. That God would choose to talk to and direct our family through him. I am so used to that idea. The very idea of God seeing my husband and me as standing side by side accountable as a team in mutual submission and Him seeing me as equally accountable/valuable/usable is at once, exciting and terrifying.
My actions look the same but I serve my husband first simply because I LOVE HIM and I am choosing to be second to him NOT out of duty or rank. I am honoring HIM not his position. Holy Crap. That is so radical when you think about it.
It’s blowing my mind to think of the implications of taking the duty and rank out of the equation. It’s causing me to wonder, did Christ come out of duty or simply love?”
I love how she says “I am honoring him, not his position.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told as a wife that I am submitting to the position, my head. Gah, I don’t care about that! I want to submit to the man I love! Because I love him, not because he has authority over me.
Unity, Equality and Luv
Jesus enjoys equality with the Father. If he doesn’t, becoming submissive while on earth was no big deal. Rather like a lead angel. It was BECAUSE of His equality, that He proved his love by refusing to claim his equal rights. And that’s not paying lip-service to equality. Jesus is God, not some lesser form of God, not now or ever. There is no hierarchy in the trinity; no inherent superiority or responsibility or authority of the Father over the Son, or the Son over the Spirit. They are one. And they love each other.
This equal love; this setting aside of personal rights; this other-focus; this self-forgetfulness; this unity; this is the marriage God calls us to enjoy. There is no danger to the gospel in this. This is gospel.
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. ~John 17