Kingdom Principle: Submission of the body & soul yields the exaltation of the spirit and glorification of the King.
In general we are not very good at following directions. There are many indicators and very clear demonstrations of this – the excuses and rationales are fairly undisputed as well. We don’t take the time to read, we struggle to listen without forming an opinion, we disregard warnings and bend the law for our own selfish and personal bias….. and yet discovering the life of abundant joy and exaltation may be as simple as following a few simple directions. We have looked at those as the 10 commandments a few weeks back, and the last two weeks as Accept, Believe, Confess & Declare. Here we will attempt to take a different direction (although already addressed in previous posts) of understanding the call to submission in relation to body and soul, to that of the spirit.
Often the word submission is used in the context of relationship with others, whether that is husband and wife, government and the people, teacher and student and so on…. Here we are addressing the concept of submission within oneself. Prior to addressing any of the previous concepts of submission in external relationships, one must engage an understanding of submission of one’s body and soul to that of their spirit. (to review previous posts on this – Can going to church give you a split personality) It is clear that Jesus exemplified this submission in his own life prior to submitting to the pain and anguish of the attacks of the Jewish leaders, the Roman persecution and the scorn of the cross.
All the passages clearly depict the concepts of the body and soul being filled with grief, yet the strength of the person comes from the LORD, and is expressed via their spirit. While we can strive to walk as Jesus did, this week we will focus on the short narrative of the disciples attaining the colt for Jesus to ride on – Mark 11. Here the disciples are asked by Jesus to go “borrow” a colt. In essence this is stealing; expect that they are given the call to do this for the LORD. When they are confronted, they must face the ridicule and rejection of such an act, while defending their actions only with the words of Jesus. Now look at the owner of the colt – we do not get his direct response – but why would he release such a possession… would you be willing to let it go? What if the people push back and say you are stupid to give away your colt (or whatever possession the Lord is asking for) – how would you defend your decision to let it go…. Would you feel the need to defend your choice?
The discipline of the body prevents it from being your master such that when you direct your body to do what is “painful” or “difficult” it does not over-rule you as master. (I remember training for rowing crew in college – my body said no more, but the captain say go – and I was able to do more than I ever imagined) The discipline of the soul prevents it from being your master such that when you direct your soul to endure that which is considered shameful or belittling by others – it does not over-rule you as its master. The spirit within you is the means by which the LORD sustains and empowers you to do such things, but if your body or soul is the master of your decisions, the spirit will not direct your steps.
I confess it is easier to measure your (my) short comings than your (my) successes in this area. Yet in our short comings, the lack of submission of our body to our spirit – whether for fasting, resting, controlling our physical urges and wants; or our soul to our spirit – whether for demonstrating our character, enduring rejection, or being a servant… each time we encounter this opportunity we are given a chance to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Putting your trust in the Lord, proclaiming that He is your Master, King and God – and in doing so in an A.B.C.D. (see the last two weeks posts) manner that your body nor soul are going to save you. While many of us know this theologically – meaning we don’t expect or believe that our body or soul can save us –we live our lives in such a way that they are in fact our master. So what shall we do:
- Begin to hear the independent “voice” of your body and soul and spirit. If you don’t know the “voice” of each, it will be difficult if not impossible to listen to it or conversely to lead it to submission.
- Identify the weakness of your body, soul, and spirit. And seek to follow the direction of your spirit in the Word of God and Prayer, grow in the development of your soul through servant opportunities and growing your character and self-awareness through key chosen relationships, grow the discipline of your body through diet, rest and exercise.
- Integrate all the above. We are not intended to be separated into parts and in fact we can’t be, I have addressed it here as such for your benefit to see the uniqueness of submission, and what makes it such a challenge. It is very common to live a Christian life – where the body is the master of the spirit –yielding a self-righteous form of obedience to service and Bible study. It is just as common to live a Christian life – where the soul is the master of the spirit -yielding a contemplative and pious form of mystical obedience where the character of the person is the cherished prize.
- Finally – Chose one avenue to grow at a time – we are complex beings, unified by the Love of God, for the purpose of His Glory. You don’t have to take on everything at once. It’s simple – begin to discipline the body by adding one thing – ex. drinking a glass of water before you eat a meal or drink anything else. Develop the soul by saying thank you or acknowledging the work of others as often as you can. Where you struggle with these you will begin to hear that “voice”.