Responding to SufferingHow do you feel when your life is interrupted by suffering and adversity?
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Life and Submission
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (v.13).
Jesus taught us to lay down our lives for others. At its most costly moments, I believe this submission of our wills happens in four progressive stages. The first stage is recognition. We are presented with a need or a person for whom a decision of submission must be made.
The second stage is deliberation. There will be a cost to our submission. At the very least, it will cost us time or money. In the most extreme cases it could cost us our lives. It will almost certainly call our own plans and aspirations into question.
The third stage is relinquishment. If it is God who is beckoning us to sacrifice—not guilt, manipulation, or duty—we will need to release our time, money, dreams, or lives into His hands. Expect to wrestle at this point. Expect to clutch and claw at what you’re about to give up.
And these last two stages are vital in our efforts to reach the final stage of submission itself. If we dismiss the need without a thought, we risk robbing someone of love and disobeying God. If we submit without consideration of cost, we risk offering a commitment without substance.
All of this is an echo of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36). He who relinquished divine privilege to take on human flesh, who said the laying down of life was the true mark of love, who “was crushed with grief” (v.38) and sweated at the cost of submission, and who relinquished His body to a cruel cross and nails—He, even He, spent hours wrestling over submission in that garden.
For the Christian, however, submission ultimately results in life. Relinquish your life for Jesus’ sake, and you will find it (10:39). The seed that dies produces the harvest (John 12:24). After Jesus’ submission came His resurrection.
Submission is the seed of new life.
Read Matthew 26:36 to see the full extent of Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will for our sake.
What makes the Christian idea of submission different from manipulation or coercion? Is God calling you to freely submit to another’s will today?
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