Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The "S" Word

It's probably not what your thinking. The "s" word I'm referring to is: submit.

The LORD has been working on my servant's heart for quite a while now.

This Sunday, I was forced, ahem, I mean, had the pleasure to teach on Colossians 3:18ff. The first verse of my assigned passage was "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the LORD."

The next verse gave instruction to husbands to love their wives.

In my initial preparations, I concluded that I was going to skip those verses all together and not even touch them. You can probably guess how that turned out. I taught almost exclusively on the wives verse. The LORD had a lot to say to me on this subject.

And now, I share it with you, in an effort, mainly, to continue to work out what He is working in. The LORD has given me a real "sitting down" as one might say.

You might want to grab a cup of coffee here or put your kid down for a nap. I'm going to try to keep this as succinct as possible without compromising the essentials but this blog might be a bit long.

Why is it that we wives get our spanx all in a wad over His instruction to be subject/submit to our husbands? We hear that word, "submit" and instantly we become defensive and begin rationalizing. We could blame our society and culture or the abuse of some men towards "submissive" wives but the real culprit, I believe, is our own rebellious hearts. As I have come to not just understand the instruction, but to internalize it, I realize how rebellious I have been and not just to my husband, but to God.

Submitting to our husbands should be as natural as submitting to the LORD Himself. Throughout the Bible, Believers are instructed to submit to one another, be devoted to one another, give preference to one another, consider one another as more important than yourself (Romans 12:10, Phil. 2:3,4). In short, to do everything as if unto the LORD (Col 3:17, 23,24). If this is to be our general attitude toward one another, why is it so offensive to our sensibilities to have this attitude toward our spouse?

Probably because we have not resolved within ourselves that we are going to obey the LORD. Many "believers" today have a wait-and-see attitude towards Scripture. They want to wait and see if it makes sense for them, to wait and see if it works for them, to wait and see if it benefits them.

We must, as Joshua instructed the Israelites before crossing the Jordan, decide for ourselves today who we are going to serve. We must decide, not on a case-by-case basis, but once and for all whether we are going to obey Christ or not. Take a moment now, think about it. Are you or are you not going to obey the LORD? Has His Lordship been established and resolved in your heart? It's all or nothing.

I hope you chose to obey. If you did, then His command to submit/subject ourselves to our husbands is not that different, in fact, it is merely an extension of His Lordship in our lives.

Let's explore the purpose of marriage for just a second. This will not be an exhaustive discussion but rather a look at just one aspect of the purpose of marriage.

Colossians 1:16 says, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him."

Colossians 1:18 goes on to say that, "He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."

So, every position with authority was created by Christ and for Christ. He is the head of the church which was created for Him. Track with me here.

Eph. 5:22-24, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the LORD. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church. He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything."

Marriage is given to be a physical demonstration of a spiritual reality, that being, Christ is LORD and worthy to be obeyed. The relationship between husband and wife is to be a material example of Christ's relationship (seen only with spiritual eyes) with His church (the corporate body of true believers worldwide now and throughout history and until the end of time).

Jennifer Kennedy Dean has said, "The person who cannot discern spiritual truth is not living in harmony with reality and so is limited in his understanding."

Our God is a God of order and has established a hierarchal system throughout His creation. From the food chain to family relations, there is order and hierarchy. To the degree that we do not submit to His order, we are "not living in harmony with reality."

God has designed the husband to be the representative of His authority in the home. Wives, if we do not recognize, acknowledge and submit to this order, we are rebelling not just against our husbands but against God Himself.

What a privilege married women have to exemplify, to flesh out, the church's relationship with Christ.

Let me take this one step further and attack this from a different angle.

The Christian community (by this I mean Bible-believing followers of Christ) is rather firm on their stance on homosexuality. It is wrong. The Bible says it is wrong and there isn't much disagreement on the subject. What is homosexuality? Is it not one's refusal to submit to their God-assigned gender role? One's deferring to their own feelings rather than God's established order with regard to their relationship with the same and the opposite sex?

Wives, to the degree that we do not submit to our God-assigned gender role (being a wife and submitting to our husbands) we are committing the very same offense as non-celibate homosexuals.

Eph. 5:33b (AMP) ...and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].

I Pet. 3:1,2 (AMP) In a like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate ourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them] so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives, when they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him - to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize and, in the human sense, adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].

In the immortal words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, "Behold, the bondslave of the LORD; may it be done to me according to your word."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Morbidly Obese

Morbidly obese: that is what I want my soul to be.

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing but the soul of the diligent is made fat.

The soul of the diligent is persistent, consistent and relentless in pursuit of what it craves. It looks for what satisfies from the One who satisfies. The diligent is rewarded, as we see, because their soul is fat - they have been richly fed from the Provider's table.

This reminds me of Jesus' interaction with the woman who was pleading to the LORD to have mercy on her daughter who was demon possessed. (Matt. 15: 21-28) This woman was a Canaanite. She cried out loudly (and kept on crying out loudly) for Jesus to have mercy. The disciples wanted to send her away because she was making such a ruckus. Jesus goes to her gently rebuking His disciples.

The woman bows low and makes her petition to Jesus. He says to her, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." (v. 26)

This woman responds with such faith! She replies, "Yes, LORD; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master's table."

Jesus praises her for her faith and grants her request.

The Canaanite woman was only asking for crumbs but received a 5 course meal. How did it come about that she received this? She asked and she kept on asking. People told her to be quiet, be less loud, to give up and to go away and yet she persisted. Jesus instructs us to act just like this woman.

Matthew 7:7,8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Too often we apply this verse as a means of getting the material things we want. But I believe it is spiritual. Jesus longs to give Himself to us. He longs to fill and to fatten our souls with Himself. He promises, if you will but ask Him, if you will seek Him, if you will knock on the door of heaven, it will be opened unto you. You will get what you ask for. You will get what you ask for and what you seek when what you ask for and what you seek is more of Him.

The other morning I had just gotten out of bed. It was early. I had set my alarm to get up for quiet time. As I was stumbling from bed to the coffee pot I said to God, "I really don't want to do this this morning. I really want to sleep."

In a flash Proverbs 13:4 popped into my mind. Then, just as quickly I "heard", 'You reap what you sow.' I began skipping to the coffee pot when another verse came to mind, one we had just studied in Bible study:

Philippians 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my LORD for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish (read, 'poo') so that I may gain Christ.

That extra hour or two of sleep, poo. When compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, sleep looks as valuable to me a pile of poo. When I sow into my relationship with my LORD, I reap intimacy with Him. He speaks to me through His word. He comforts, He guides, He makes me laugh. He is my best Companion, Friend, Master.

Proverbs 6:10, 11 A little sleeping, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will overtake you like a thief in the night.

When I value sleep over knowing Christ my spirit suffers. It starves. When I sow, spiritually, into Christ the harvest is abundant. I eat and eat and eat and my soul grows fatter and fatter and fatter. My goal is that my soul will be so fat that there is no room left for the flesh, that my soul would be morbidly obese in regard to the flesh. (I'm speaking in spiritual terms). My aim is to be so consumed with "eating" from my LORD's table, filling my soul with His rich fare, that I give no regard at all for the cravings of the flesh (again, spiritually. Flesh here refers to my sin nature; my desire to do my own thing and have my own way apart from Him.)

Let me ask you, reader, are you hungry? Is your soul starving? Diligently seek the LORD. Ask of Him to feed you. I promise He will not let you go hungry. You will reap what you sow.