Submission is a spiritual discipline. It's probably one that's not practiced well. I realize the idea of submission freaks people out. We are often afraid to submit to anyone, including God. Maybe because religion often distorts what it means to live and practice a life of submission and that, likely, fuels fear in those abused by religion. But a biblical practice of submission leads us to the One who gives us freedom. It seems like a paradox, but entering biblical submission frees us from bondage.
We have a problem. We struggle to live in biblical submission. I think we can easily see how this plays out in social media.
Before we go there, let's start with God's Word. This Sunday, we'll look at 1 Peter 2:16. It reads, "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God." Now let's think about how people use perceived 'freedom' on social media.
First, many people believe they are free to say anything they want on social media. Second, people believe that their public statements, no matter how vile or evil, are free from anyone's replies in which they disagree. And third, our engagement on social media is usually either about freely forcing others to conform to the ideas we think are important (likely, the false gods of this world), or to show our friends how much better we are then them when it comes to freely conforming to the social pressures of this world.
Why do even those who claim freedom in Christ act this way on social media? Because we wrongly believe that we are far more important and superior than everybody else. We think and act like our comments are more important than the millions of other people who think the exact same way. In truth, we are in bondage to our own desires to be right, to be important, and to be seen by others as we desire to be seen. We have a submission problem. We don't want to submit to anything or anyone. Even worse, we demand that others submit to us. This problem keeps us locked in the sick bondage of our own creation.
1 Peter 2:16 shows us a better way.
"Live as people who are free," 1 Peter 2:16 says, "not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."
Did you know that Jesus never said anything of his own opinion or desires? Every word he ever spoke was a word spoken in submission to the Father. (See John 5:19, John 6:38, John 5:30, and John 8:28.) In his freedom, he lived in submission.
Did you know that the Bible speaks about how we are to rebuke our bothers and sisters who are in sin (not simply in opposition to our opinions or preferences) so that they might come back into God's will and freedom? (Matthew 18:15-35 shows us the way.) Have you noticed how much discourse Jesus gets into where ideas are being brought into God's Truth? These happen many times with the Pharisees, but they are far more significant when Jesus corrects his disciples and his disciples return to a life in submission to the will of God.
And I'm sure you've read that we are not be conformed to the ways and thinking of this world, but to God and his ways. In fact, Jesus died on a cross and defeated death so that you can be transformed into the freedom that only Christ can offer. Jesus frees us from the bondage of living submitted to the wrong things, ideas, and people.
Without Jesus, we are submitted to the gods of this world. In Christ, we are free. And in no way are we to use that freedom as a cover-up for the reality that we still worship the people, ideas, and social norms of this fallen world despite all Jesus has done and is doing to set us free. We see it well in our social media behavior.
However, as servants of God, we become submitted the very source of life. We find freedom in submission. When we no longer serve and worship ourselves and our desires; we are free to serve and worship God and live within his desires. And he desires that we live free of the bondage of our sin.
Submission is freedom from bondage, as paradoxical as that may seem. But it's true. The spiritual discipline of submission leads us closers to Christ, and in Christ, we can be free. We'll be discussing this more on Sunday as we look at 1 Peter 2:16.
For the Kingdom!