Monday, January 23, 2012

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

The book I am currently reading:

What is Jesus worth to you?

It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily...

But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple--then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Submission to Authority

Submission seems to be a taboo word in today’s society.  We are a society of “me-ism,” a society where everyone looks out for themselves and wants their own way.  Submission goes against that thought.  Submission means humbling yourself to another’s ways and that has nothing to do with ME.  The definition of the word submit is: to give over or yield to the power or authority of another.  

So what happens when you are in disagreement with someone in authority over you?  What happens when you think God is leading one way, but the authority over you does not see things the same way?  What are you to do? 

There are many verses in the Bible that speak of submission.  There is submission of slaves to their masters, wives to their husbands, submission to God, and so many more. 

Proverbs 3:6 tells us to submit all your ways to him, and he will make your paths straight.  You might argue that this is saying that we must submit to God and only God and then he will make our paths straight.  If we only take one verse and do not look at the Bible as a whole, we will be lacking in our understanding.   In Romans 13:1-5, Paul writes, “1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”  In this passage, Paul is telling us that all authority is put in place by God and there is no authority in place that God has not established.  

God places these leaders of us to watch over us and they will give an account someday.  Hebrews 13:17 says, “1 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”  When we don’t submit to them, their work becomes a burden. 
When we humble ourselves to those in authority over us, there is a blessing to us.  Peter tells us;  “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud  but shows favor to the humble.”

I don’t know about you, but I want God’s favor.  Does having God’s favor mean we will always get what we desire or always see things happen the way we think it’s supposed to be?  No.  We had a situation in the past where we didn’t see eye to eye with someone in authority over us.  Just to clarify, these things were not things that we are to die for.  It was not disagreeing with salvation issues or evils taking place.  After talking about it, we came to the conclusion that the Word tells us to submit to the authority placed over us.  When we went to the authority and told them that while we disagreed with them, we could in fact submit to their God given authority, we were then told that is wasn’t good enough, that it was a heart issue. The Word tells us that man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.  We knew that our hearts before God were right; we had humbled ourselves before God and man.  The outward appearance would come later as proof of our heart.   It was at that moment, when our willingness to submit was rejected, that we realized that it was not possible to continue under that leadership in the way that we had been. We were not being allowed to submit.

There are times when those in leadership, who have authority, can focus in the wrong place.  In Luke 10, Jesus had appointed 72 others to go out to heal the sick and declare that the kingdom of God was near.   They came back rejoicing because even the demons submitted in His name.  In verses 18-20 Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  We can get caught up in the things that we do through the power and name of Jesus.  Here, the 72 that went out were more focused on what they did rather than who they were in Christ.  The evil spirits submitted to them and that was their focus when they returned.  

Currently, I am, again, in a place where I may not agree totally with some changes in direction where I am serving but I have chosen to submit to the authority that God has placed over me.  I have expressed my concerns over some changes but that’s where it ends.  Once I have decided to submit, regardless of what I think should happen, I go on under the leader’s authority and support them in whatever way I can.  The leader over me has two choices: to accept my submission or reject it.  I am grateful that in my current situation, the leader in authority over me has chosen to accept my submission and he is grateful for it. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for me because I chose to submit.  

Submission is not an easy thing, but it comes with its rewards.  Our submission to others in authority is our submission to God.  I know for me, I want to follow God with all my heart so unless someone in authority over me is in direct conflict with the Word of God, I will choose to submit.  

I pray that my heart would be humble before you.  I pray that you would give me insight to know how to handle the times when I may not agree with someone in authority over me.  In my submission, I pray that your love would shine through.