Kingdom Principle: Obedience will get you to the “door” of the Kingdom, but Submission is necessary for it to open.
Submission is a matter of the heart.
|Ruth 1:1-18 Psalm 146||Hebrews 9:11-14||Mark 12:28-34|
“Close” is only good enough if you are playing horseshoes or throwing hand grenades. Jesus is very clear – close is not close enough. To understand the concept of “close” when it comes to the boundary of the Kingdom, review the post from Sept. 25th. Briefly here, the Kingdom of God is without a fixed outer edge or boundary. Meaning you cannot simply draw a box around the Kingdom of God, nor can you make a list of those who are “in” verses “out”. However the Kingdom of God is fixed on one focal point – that is Jesus Christ as the King. This is called a Center-Set rather than a Bounded-Set. When your focus is on the King and you are moving toward the King, it matters not how far away you are– only that you are moving closer to the King and heading in that direction. The Scribes in the Mark passage are closer to the King than ever before…. But something is still preventing him from moving in the right direction. That movement is the difference between Obedience and Submission.
The focus of the Gospel of Mark demonstrates that Jesus is sent to the marginalized, the broken, the rejected, and the downcast. Mark paints the picture of those who are blind finding sight, and those who can see are missing the picture. How can this be? – It is because the one struggles to give up all that they have accumulated and achieved, while the other finds it easy to “deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Jesus” for the have very little to give up. This is why it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Those who have much resource, education, support and training will find obedience an easier road than submission. In submission we recognize that I am weak and you are strong. Submission is to surrender my will for Thy Will. Submission is to move beyond obedience of act, into the obedience of attitude. Outwardly obedience is observed, but inwardly motivation can be concealed – resentment, hatred, fear or ambition, desire, even worldly love may be the motivation of one’s heart. (Review a post on what motivates you.)
A few weeks back, we looking at the tale of two trees – there we saw that “good vs. evil” does not reveal the heart of God… rather the ways of the enemy. God desires and plants only that which births life. Submission is the way of Life. For in Submission; our mind, will and emotions are considered dead to their own ways. This concept is anchored in the understanding of your body and soul being in submission to your spirit. Much has been posted on this – begin here and work backwards. The soul can be obedient without submission… but the soul without submission to the spirit is actually rebellion masked by good works. It was not merely obedience which lead Jesus to the cross as his soul suffered; his will was hard pressed, his emotions where perplexed, and his mind was persecuted, in all this he was stuck down but not abandoned. For this reason our attitude should be that of Christ. (Phil 2, 2 Cor. 4)
Ruth choose submission, not to Naomi, but to her God and her journey. Orpah choose obedience unto Naomi, which was not “wrong”, but returned her on the journey to false gods. Obedience provides for us an instant confirmation that we did it well. In submission must wait on the Lord to hear the words, “Good job, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25) In obedience we march down the path of self-justification and self-righteousness, where as in submission we discover the Justification of the Cross and the Righteousness of the Kingdom.
Submission begins the process of sanctification – which is the Holy Spirit’s work in us to die to ourselves and submit our lives to the will of the Father. Submission takes place first within you and I. Outwardly I can present myself clean, by my own doing, but inwardly there is nothing I can do to clean what I blind to see. Therefore submission moves us to confess – crying out for the Spirit of God to work in our lives, so that our will, our mind and our emotions would be submitted to the very wisdom of God. That we might become a vessel by which His Spirit can be expressed to the world. In this way we discover how the impossible can become a reality. That a father (Abraham) can offer his only son as a sacrifice. That a Moabite (Ruth) can be grafted into the lineage of the Jewish Messiah. That a virgin (Mary) can give birth in a manger to the King of Kings. That a persecutor of the church (Saul) can become the messenger of the cross to the gentiles. That you and I can become all that God had designed us to be for His Kingdom Come and Will be done.
This is the path of Submission. The way of Obedience can and will bring us to the door way of the impossible, but we will remain on the outside of the movement of God that promoted us to be obedient in the first place.
So how do you know if your life is rooted in obedience or submission? First – If you are in submission – obedience will be the expressed reality. However, if we are in obedience without submission, the latter will never grow out of the first. Since submission can not grow out of obedience, the better question is how do I submit? We place our trust in the LORD. We die to ourselves – confessing that there is no good in me, and without the power of the Spirit of God, never will life be possible. Finally we choose the path of our Savior – which is that of a Kingdom servant.
1. Make a list of ways in which you are obedient unto the Lord? How do you serve?, What do you do because the Lord has prompted or lead you to do? If the Lord did not require this of you – you would stop doing it? Take that List and Submit it to the Lord – asking which of these did YOU ask me to do, verses which of these did I take on for my own good – a means of self-righteousness or self-justification.
2. Ask the Lord how you might fully submit unto Him. Seek to hear from God through his Word and others by the power of the Holy Spirit that your soul & spirit might be divided. (Hebrews 4:12) Without such separation, it is impossible for the soul to submit to the spirit. For most Christians there is no distinction between the soul and spirit, which mean the soul is not in submission to the spirit – in the same way that most Christians will engage obedience as if it were an act of submission.
3. Integrate # 1 & #2 – now continue to do that which the Lord prompts you to do, and taking on that attitude of submission in your obedience. The Lord may prompt you to question a perspective which you held out as unquestionable, or the Lord my ask you to give up something that has been labeled good in your life. Recognize that the submission of the soul unto the spirit is a discipline and rarely expressed by taking more on, but rather my revealing truth when things are removed.