Remember your baptism for a moment. The moment you went into the water and gave your “YES” to Christ and he gave his Spirit to you, washed you clean, and sealed you with the covenant of love. Yet, at our baptism, we also bound ourselves to Christ as his “doulos” in the Greek this is translated “slave of Christ.” The New Testament says that the world will see the beauty of Christ when they see the fruit of our submission. It bears fruit in many ways. The fruit of our submission to Christ feeds and gives flavor in how we submit to church leaders, government leaders, spouses, and then Paul goes all in and says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” One could ask, “Well which one is it? Who are we really supposed to submit to?” The answer is YES. As followers of Christ and slaves of his we need to be reminded that upon our baptism, we gave up any rights that forgo our command to be in service to the Kingdom of God. Listen to Peter’s words on the matter particularly when it comes to the nation.
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
Submission to Christ is about the transformation of Pagan. Submission to Christ is about the evangelization of a world that sees only violence and power. Submission to Christ is about living a simple and peaceful life as Christians. Showing honor to the emperor didn’t mean that Peter thought Caesar was Lord. It simply meant that, in the words of MLK, he would not allow “anyone to bring you so low as to hate them.” Submission in this way, rises above the politics and powers of this world and reveals another kind of king. “And the government shall be upon his shoulders.” Isaiah the prophet revealed that the Messiah is the rule of all and nothing but our complete allegiance to him is required. How have you daily surrendered to King Jesus while respecting and showing honor to the kings of this age?
Defiance – We see the kings of this world come and go. We hear the NT call to Christians to live simple and peaceful lives among the secular world around as aliens and foreigners. Perhaps today repentance looks like speaking with God about how his kingdom holds our citizenship. What does that word citizenship mean to you? How does it impact your submission to Christ? How does it rule the way you live out the law of Christ? Speak to God now about the struggles you are experiencing in moving permanent residence to his heart and his home. Leaving all you have to follow hard after him. This is the call to discipleship.
My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger
– James 1:19
When someone is speaking, do you hear them? Are you truly listening, or are you just waiting until it’s your turn to talk? This mindset says, “What you’re trying to share with me isn’t important. What I have to say is.”
What about with God? Do you listen when He speaks? …do you give Him time to be listened to?
So often our prayers are monologues – talking at God about what we need Him to do. While God is available to us in every moment and cares deeply about the desires of our hearts, and while there is true need for this type of prayer and lament, no relationship is healthy if one-sided. Our prayers cannot stop there. We must cultivate a deeper relationship with our God, and spend time knowing His presence, hearing His voice.
There isn’t much in our lives that can’t happen instantaneously. Instant gratification is so convenient. But has it caused us to lose respect for waiting for things? Waiting on God? It is time to redeem patience, value listening, and learn to wait on the Lord.
In a world that tells us our voice is the most important, we must challenge ourselves to take on the humility of Christ, and give God back His place. Listening is an avenue of love. When we are listened to, we feel heard, seen, known. Today, how can you hear, see, and know God and those around you?
Freedom in Christ –
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
– Galatians 5:13-14
Our freedom in Christ is not the right to exercise our faith on Sunday mornings or to indulge in our personal independence. In fact our misunderstanding of freedom leads us to believe we’re entitled to special privileges. This is far from what Christ calls the church when it comes to exercising our freedom to love our neighbor as ourselves. In Christ we learn to learn how to care for and love our neighbor keeping their wellbeing and interest in mind. We learn to be sensitive to the needs in our community, seeking to understand and listening to the concerns of others. Our mission to love faithfully comes from the understanding of what Christ has done for us in freeing us from our selfish nature. We are transformed in our thoughts and actions. By discovering our freedom in Christ we learn to align ourselves with God’s mission to seek the lost and love sacrificially.
4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
– Psalm 25:4-11
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. 8 Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Cry out in sorrow, mourn, and weep! Let your laughter become mourning and your joy become sadness. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
– James 4:7-10
A Prayer from St. Anselm of Canterbury
O my God, teach my heart where and how to seek You,
where and how to find You.
You are my God and You are my all and I have never seen You.
You have made me and remade me,
You have bestowed on me all the good things I possess,
Still I do not know You.
I have not yet done that for which I was made.
Teach me to seek You.
I cannot seek You unless You teach me
or find You unless You show Yourself to me.
Let me seek You in my desire,
let me desire You in my seeking.
Let me find You by loving You,
let me love You when I find You.