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Christian Spiritual Disciplines: Submission

March 24, 2014

Location: King’s Schools (thanks to Kevin Peterson)

Title: “Surrender yourself to the team” (thanks to Camille Carr)

Photo by Marcel

Photo by Marcel


  • Submission literally means that we are “sub-mission” or “under mission”. Our mission is to be in support of a greater mission. It does not mean we don’t count; it means that we play a part in something that is bigger than ourselves, and that our actions are multiplied. Like in a football team, and the team we’re on is infinitely more impactful than any other team on Earth: the team of Followers of Jesus.
  • In a football team, the actions of the individuals are only effective if they are aligned with the goals and movements of the team.
  • Players also need to submit to the rules. Without rules there is no game. The rules govern the freedoms that we have. Submitting to the rules is liberating; it takes away the burden of indecisiveness and doubt. Jesus led the way in submission, obeying the will of his Farther by dying on the cross so that our sins would be washed away.
  • We submit to God to play a role in His kingdom on earth and in heaven. Alone we can achieve nothing, but with God as our head coach (and pastor Phil as His offensive coordinator) we can achieve everything. We submit to God’s goals, rules, and realities. We love God and therefore are eager to submit to his rules.
  • By submitting to God – serving our mission under God – we worship and honor Him.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2014 7:07 AM

    Thanks, Phil, for a clear, positive explanation of submission. I entered the post gingerly and my subsequent musings have been interesting–focusing mostly on why does this analogy or concept break down when used in the marriage context? Guess because when it’s been used for wives, there is no real “team.” At any rate, I realized who “loaded” a word that is for women–something to be aware of.

    • March 26, 2014 3:10 PM

      Thank you for the gracious reminder of the many ways submission has been misused and abused. I appreciate the insight Richard Foster gives to the concept: “The biblical teaching on submission focuses primarily on the spirit with which we view other people.” (Celebration of Discipline, 97).
      The other thing that makes it so loaded is that submission is one of the most interpersonal disciplines. We have another person involved in a way that impacts our relationship to God. While submitting to God is the primary expression, being in appropriate relationship to others is the practical expression.

  2. Marcel Eisma permalink*
    March 25, 2014 10:14 AM

    Hi Kathleen, thanks for your comment. I wrote the text in this week’s post and please allow me to chime in.

    It is evident that “submission” is a loaded word. In today’s world, “submission” is not seen as a positive thing or a source of strength. The counterpart of submission is often interpreted as “oppression.”

    What I have come to understand, believe and live is that in the biblical sense there is no counterpart to submission in a marriage. Ephesians 5:21: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” I believe that fear is not meant as anxiety fear, but as eagerness fear. I don’t believe God wants us to submit “or else…” but he is strongly encouraging us to submit to one another to be able to receive all he has for us as a married couple and as individuals.

    Therefore in marriage the counterpart of submission is… submission. I submit to my wife, and she submits to me. I follow her wishes in Jesus Christ because I love her, and she follow my wishes in Jesus Christ because she loves me. We submit to each other, and keep each other accountable for living the best life that Jesus has in store for us.

    Still, the word “submission” is a loaded term. As are “service”, “humility”, “surrender”. And I believe that our task as Christians is to lead by example and show how powerful and liberating living these words truly is.

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