One aspect of God is that He is powerful and mighty,
but is that really all? Is always stern, angry and fierce?
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
With the split of COGaIC, there has been a lot of talk about submission. I initially tried to follow it, but I had issues connecting one week, and other matters required more attention. Author at PTGBook has been following it a little more closely in articles like “Will the Nine ‘Mutually Submit’ to Some among the Fifty?“.
So far, it seems there is little clarity in what direction this new group, which appears to at least temporarily be calling itself “Church of God, a Family Community” (Author abbreviates this COGFC, which is good enough for a temporary designation). It’s not clear to me what “mutual submission” means in governance. Also, I have concerns if they are downplaying the preaching of the Gospel for an indefinite period of time. In particular, this is a concern because ostensibly it was one of their concerns for leaving, so what does it all mean?
However, the question in the title is one I asked early on to myself. It was in response to David Hulme’s letter that disparaged the notion of mutual submission. I already commented on the portion where he claimed a father who did what he thought best was not an autocrat, which means Hulme needs a dictionary.
The obvious idea behind Hulme’s letter is that God is in charge. I have no issue with that. However, he made it seem as though God simply sits in Heaven and dictates all details of all things that will occur upon the earth in an ironclad manner. Let me just state that God does not work that way.
First of all, what is the real difference between Christ and God the Father? Think about that, please. Is Jesus somehow less of a God being than God the Father is? No, the difference is fundamentally one of authority. Furthermore, what backs up the authority of God the Father? Is it not the submission of Jesus Christ to the Father?
Second, Christ came to earth and emptied Himself, made Himself a slave to all. He gave up His spiritual existence and became mortal. He gave up His power and glory. However, was He still God? We are told plainly that He was God in the flesh (1Jn 4:1-3; Mt 1:23).
Several times, the demons recognized Him, and they would beg to not go into the abyss, be tortured, etc. Why? Because He still had His authority. He knew with one word, God the Father could send a legion of angels to earth.
Did Christ submit to the legal authorities while on the earth? Obviously, if He became a criminal, then how could it be said He led a perfect life? He did not cry out against the corrupt Roman government, even when given the opportunity to say so when asked if it were appropriate to pay taxes.
Did Jesus submit to other human authorities?
51 And he [Jesus] went down with them [His parents], and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
~ Lk 2:51
How about some other things to consider?
- Moses prayed to God to lead Israel into the Promised Land after God said an angel would lead them. God relented and led them.
- Moses prayed to God to not destroy Israel, in spite of him being promised to become the father of a new nation. God relented and did not destroy the nation.
- Joshua asked for the sun to stand still, and God listened. Specifically, we are told “that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man” (Jos 10:14).
- Hezekiah was told to put his affairs in order because he would die. He wept, God heard him, and God gave him 15 more years.
- Abraham essentially bartered with God so that Sodom would not be destroyed if even only 10 righteous were found there.
A loving husband will look to not just the needs of his wife, but he will attempt to address her desires as well. If he does not, can it really be said that he loves her? That he has unselfish outgoing concern for her?
Why is it that some men (and women) are so afraid of giving in just a little? That is not love, that is not sovereignty, and that is not exercising righteous authority. It is tyranny due to extreme insecurity.
So, I waited until the end to define submit.
1. to give over or yield to the power or authority of another (often used reflexively).
2. to subject to some kind of treatment or influence.
3. to present for the approval, consideration, or decision of another or others…
7. to defer to another’s judgment, opinion, decision, etc. …
When you look at this partial list of definitions, I am struck by a few things:
1. God delegates authority to heads of families, heads of governments and heads of churches. Delegation is a type of turning over power and authority, and it is a form of submission.
2. Jesus allowed Himself to be subjected to the worst possible type of treatment. He submitted in spite of unrighteousness.
3 & 7. God often tells people to choose thus and such. God told Moses (Nu 13:1-3) to select out spies for the land of Canaan, which incidentally was the idea of the people (Dt 1:22-23), which means God listened not only to which men to send but the very idea of men being sent in the first place. When God sent angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he listened to the opinion of Abraham that the righteous should not be destroyed with the wicked. God listened to the daughters of Zelophehad that they should be able to inherit their father’s land (Nu 27:7). And, so on.
Of course, God will not yield and bend if it endangers His entire plan, but neither is He a grand puppet master pulling on the strings of His subjects as Calvinism portrays. The truth is somewhere in between.
Like a father to His children, He will relent to their wishes when it is beneficial and right to do so, but not do so when it is harmful to them or a point needs to be made.
Or, do we pray in vain?