If there is one exceptional thing that I have learned along my journey of faith, through which I have experienced the greatest blessing and release, it is that submission and servanthood are the keys to promotion in the Kingdom of God.
In part one of this discourse on the power of submission, I discussed how submission is relational and that the only way for us to enter into and experience the fullness of what Christ has done for us is through this sacred principle. This was the secret to Christ’s effectiveness while on earth, which is what I would like to explore with you now.
Our Prime Example
One of my favourite passages of scripture is found in John 17:4. Jesus is praying to His father and says, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” What was the work that God had given Jesus to do? It was to glorify Him. The way Jesus did that was by accurately representing His heavenly father in every area of His life. What was His secret? How did Christ manage to live a life that brought such glory to the Father?
We find the answer to that question beautifully articulated in just two scriptures, though there are many more that express the same sentiment. John 6:38 says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Likewise, John 5:19 says, “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.””
We can see by these scriptures that the secret to a life that brings glory to God is to live in complete submission to Him. This is the hallmark of Christ’s life. He did not live to please Himself. His sole purpose and desire was to please and obey His father.
I have heard some say that ‘Christ never had an original thought,’ but I don’t agree with this statement. It is not that Jesus didn’t have an opinion of His own. He was not a mindless puppet or senseless robot. The fact is that Jesus’ opinions, will and thoughts were constantly in submission to those of His Father. He never entertained any thought or unction that was not pleasing to God.
Nowhere is this heart attitude of submission more evident than in Christ’s ‘nevertheless’ moment. In the garden of Gethsemane, faced what proved to be the sternest test of His life with the reality of his crucifixion looming, Jesus prayed the following prayer: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” – Luke 22:42
Even in this moment of desperation, of soul-wrenching surrender, Christ chose the will of His father over His own. We must never forget that this decision cost Jesus His life. This was no small call. Yet this is the very example that Christ now calls on us to follow. He said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” The two things that really stand out for me in this scripture are firstly that the invitation is given to ‘anyone,’ and secondly that the requirement is the same for everyone.
God is no respecter of persons. His love knows no conditions and his blessings are available to anyone. That also means that the terms of total submission are the same for everyone. The wonderful thing about this, however, is that it is at this glorious juncture that we meet with the power, grace and life-giving love of God. This is where it becomes real, experiential and tangible.
Power through Submission
In this world’s system, submission is seen as a sign of weakness. When we buy into this lie, we have to force our will upon others as a sign of strength and dominance. We live our lives having to prove our worth to everyone else in order to make a name for ourselves. To do this, we must outperform and outwit the ‘competition’ because our sense of value and importance is dependent upon our performance.
The other thing that happens is that our own abilities become our limiting factor. We can never achieve anything greater than what our own giftedness and skill can produce. So what we find is that, in our reluctance to submit, we end up limiting ourselves and our effectiveness to natural, restricted means.
The contrast, however, opens up to us a world of power and divine intervention so glorious that it completely outshines that which we are able to produce on our own. As in the life of Jesus, when we become completely submitted to God and make glorifying Him our primary goal, we release God to empower us with His strength and grace.
This means that God undertakes on our behalf to see to it that His will and purpose for our lives is worked out. He gives us His grace and His Holy Spirit to help guide and prepare us. He connects us with people who will equip, train and coach us. He makes room for us to grow as we exercise our gifts and talents, and finally, when He feels we are ready, He sets a platform to present and release us with His blessing, favour and anointing.
In all of this, the realisation that overwhelms me with awe and gratitude is that, if I want to live my life my way, I am free to do so – but I will have to do it in my own strength. If, however, I choose to submit to the will of God for my life, He undertakes for me, provides for me, empowers me and blesses me. What an incredible transaction!
We must remember that God will only bless and anoint that which lines up with His will and purpose. The only way that we can ensure that we are living in the centre of that glorious enablement is to daily, continually submit our will to that of the Father. This is the most liberating and empowering decision that you or I could ever make!
We may have legitimate desires and dreams for our lives, but are we willing to put them on the alter and say, “nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done?” This statement makes all the difference between a life that glorifies God and a life that glorifies ourselves; a life that attracts eternal rewards and a life that is doesn’t.
In the next issue, I will discuss how our submission to God is worked out through our submission to man and what happens when the work of submission comes to maturity in our lives.
God bless you,