The spiritual life is first of all about Jesus Christ, and because it’s about him, it’s also about his body, the Church, of which He is the head. “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5). Here’s a sobering thought: within the church, you are not your own. You belong to “all the others.” You can’t pick and choose who you share yourself with. God has chosen for you, and it’s “all the others.”
That brings new meaning to the word submission. A concept which most Christians connect to marriage. That’s way too narrow a domain for submission.
Submission is one of the most difficult disciplines to practice because it’s about more than the individual and God. It’s about the individual, God, and “all the others.” And the individual falls at the bottom of the order. First, we submit ourselves to God. And then we submit ourselves to “all the others.”
Submit: to lay down what we want to make room for what others want; to say, “not my way” but “your way”; to keep our mouths shut when we’d rather open them; to honor others by promoting their cause, their good, their ideas, when we’d rather flash the brilliance of our own brainstorms; to say, “I don’t have to be the one visible or heard,” when we’d rather say, “Look at me! Listen to me!”
Submission is a way we honor others in the body of Christ as image-bearers who have essential gifts to offer the Church. It’s the most selfless discipline we can practice, and every fiber of our pride fights against it.
For further study on submission as a discipline, I highly recommend Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, a beautifully titled book that truly presents the joy of practicing spiritual disciplines.
Blessings on your quest to submit to “all the others” in the body of Christ.