Kingdom Principle: Wholeness of self (body, soul, & spirit) glorifies the King.
We begin Lent addressing the concepts of giving up verses taking on…and the fact that true growth in Lent takes place not as we give something up, but rather as we take something on as an act of submission. We are taking that further this week, to see that we can give up – giving up throughout the rest of the year and our lives as well. Last week we addressed that our brokenness boasts of the Kingdom, this post presents the paradox that our wholeness glorifies the King. Seeking wholeness is both a work of effort and grace. This post is to encourage us to put for our own effort, trusting in the grace of our Lord to be sufficient in every aspect of our weakness. Further, it is in our failed efforts that we become most aware of our pursuit of wholeness being complimented by grace.
By all standards of “triumphal entry”, the Christian church has done a great job making Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem a celebration, but if this is really Jesus’ culmination of honor, what an utter failure. He is on a borrowed donkey. Yet because of the wholeness of Christ’s life this procession glorifies the King. It is not suffering, for the sake of suffering, which brings glory to the King – it is our stance in the midst of suffering. Imagine the emotional suffering of Christ in this procession knowing that within a week this fanfare will become a fatal mob. Submission in the midst of suffering is only possible when we first embrace and understanding the significance of submission in relation to our own body and soul and spirit.
Often the word submission is used in the context of a relationship with others, whether that is husband and wife, government and the masses, teacher and student and so on…. But here we are addressing the concept of submission within oneself. I believe that the first step in becoming a great leader is learning first to lead yourself. In this same way, you cannot submit your life to another relationally, if you are unable to apply that concept within yourself. For example, within marriage, a husband cannot lay his life down for his wife, if he remains focused on living his life to please himself. (Eph. 5:18-32) Therefore submission in external relationships, must be preceded by submission of one’s body and soul and spirit. S. Covey’s “7 Habit’s of Highly effective leaders” identifies this as a private victory (Habits 1-3) which must precede a public victory (Habits 4-6). It is clear that Jesus exemplified this submission in his own life as he become humbly obedient unto death: that is to the anguish of the attacks of the Jewish leaders, the Roman persecution and pain, and finally to the scorn of the cross. (Phil 2:8, Heb. 12:2, Is. 53:4-5)
Each Scripture passage this week clearly depicts the reality of the body and soul being filled with grief and suffering, yet the strength of the person which comes from the LORD. This grace sustains the body & soul to be unified in submission with the spirit. While we can strive to “walk as Jesus did” this often means something closer to an unattainable journey for perfection. Walking like Jesus did, looks more like being willing to ride on a donkey rather than acting like one. A closer look at Mark 11 shows the disciples being asked by Jesus to go “borrow” this colt or donkey. In essence this act is stealing; they are given permission by Jesus, but they also might end up looking like a donkey if the owner says “No”. Should the disciples be confronted in taking this donkey, they must face the ridicule and rejection of such an act, while defending their actions only with the words of Jesus. Do you feel the confidence to defend your choices and actions based on the words of Jesus? This might be to avoid physical suffering, emotional ridicule or spiritual oppression, regardless of battle the pursuit is wholeness of our lives to bring glory to the King.
Elsewhere we have addressed the individual and unique aspects of the discipline of the body, development of the soul and the direction of the spirit. The emphasis here is that submission begins internally and that even our failure when given to God leads to greater wholeness. I will be the first to confess it is easier to measure my (your) short comings than my (your) successes in this area. Yet in our short comings, 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:
- Failure to submit your body to your spirit – comes up for me when I attempt to fast, rest, controlling our physical urges and wants, exercise or simply overcome laziness.
- Failure to submit your soul to our spirit – comes up for me when I don’t take my thoughts captive (allowing anger, lust, jealousy and many other thoughts dance in my mind), endure rejection, or simply resist the will of God-thrusting my own will…
In our awareness of our failures we are to place our trust in the Lord, proclaiming that Jesus is your Master, King and God –further to practice the process of Accept, Believe, Confess, Declare establishes that your body nor soul are going to save you. While many of us know this theologically–we live our lives in such a way that the body and soul become our master. This is reality is evident in our journey with Jesus despite the fact that there is abundant joy found in discovering a life lived in obedience and submission to the King of Kings. The directions given this Lent season are most simple: our confession is Jesus is Lord, and we declare we love the Lord. The last two weeks have highlighted the process 2LAF. Jesus brings this all to one simple covenant: Love one Another. (John 13:34).
So what shall we do:
- Identify the weakness of your body, soul, and spirit. Seek to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God through Prayer.
- Submission of your body is seen through servant opportunities (your ability), most common areas for growth in the area of the discipline of your body is through diet & nutrition, rest & rhythm of life, and exercise.
- Submission of your soul is seen through servant opportunities (your attitude), demonstrating character and conduct which represent the Fruit of the Spirit and self-awareness especially in relationships which are most frequent.
- Submission of your spirit is developed only after we are born again, yet the spirit continues to grow or increase in power or direction as we submit unto the Lord. (Peter’s spirit continued to grow such that his “shadow” was able to heal people, and Paul’s handkerchiefs somehow remained linked to him and the power of healing via their wholeness (Acts 5:14-16, 19:11-12). Submission of our spirit is seen through servant opportunities (your approach), as our lives our directed by spiritual disciplines, marked by intimacy, fecundity, and ecstasy.
- 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, but the temple of the Holy Spirit is wasting away.
- Finally – walk daily with the LORD. There is no such thing as failure, when Jesus is Lord and holds the power of redemption for all things. Focus on what is possible, not on what is wrong, old habits are overcome by forming a new habit which can grow through Submission. Drink 1 glass of water each day (body). Smile and find one thing to be thankful each day (soul). Pray – asking for the Lord to lead you each day, before you get out of bed each day. (spirit)