By Scott Brown
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Waverly
Submission is central to Christianity. Jesus submitted Himself to the Father by going to the cross. We come to Christ by submitting ourselves to His judgment, mercy, and lordship. We now submit ourselves daily to the authority of the Word and the control of the Spirit.
Believers also submit to one another and, together, to governing authorities.
The Christian life is a life of daily, deliberate submission to God. A Christian’s maturity might best be measured by how well they can submit when God ruins their plans or things don’t go as they plan or desire.
On more than one occasion I’ve convinced myself that something had to be God’s will only because, in that moment, I wanted it so badly. To my shame, I’ve justified many things to myself that were not God’s will or downright sinful because I’ve submitted myself to that thing more than God.
Is this really all that different from the prosperity gospel or the “name it and claim it” view of God we rightly condemn as false teaching?
We tend to view God as a heavenly butler meant to bring us what we want or a fairy godmother who appears to grant our deepest wishes in our desperate moments.
This is not the God of Scripture. Our God is holy, He is sovereign, and He is worthy of praise. He is not something we add to our lives but He is our very life! When we come to follow Christ it may cost us our dreams, our plans, our hopes, our comforts, or our very lives but it is worth it and He is worthy!
James tells us to submit ourselves (James 4:6-10), our judgments (vv. 11-12), and our plans (vv. 13-17) to God. We must submit ourselves to God by resisting Satan and rejecting sin. We must draw near to God, recognizing our desperate and daily need of Him.
We then submit our judgments to God meaning that we recognize Him as the Lawgiver and the standard of perfection and holiness. He is the One who judges or justifies and His Word alone is our authoritative guide rather than cultural preferences, historic traditions, or popular opinions.
We also submit our plans to God by understanding that God is the One who choreographs the steps in our life.
There is nothing wrong with planning for tomorrow or 20 years from now. Planning is wise and good.
The problem is when we make our plans and live our lives without considering or consulting God’s Word or will. When we come to follow Christ we are submitting our dreams and identities to Him. Jesus is our Lord, His Word is our ultimate authority, and His will is our greatest desire.
As we submit to Him all we are we learn to agree with Paul in Ephesians when he writes, “Now to Him who can do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”