Submission is not a weapon! Too often, submission is used by a husband toward his wife to try to control her by using God's Word. That is entirely wrong because submission cannot be forced; it is an internal, voluntary act of the will to yield to another person.
Submission Displays God’s Image
Better yet, submission is actually displayed between the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. More on that soon, but first, I would love to talk about another significant component of submission– the image of God.
People say, “Hermann, you think of the image of God as a hammer, so everything in life looks like a nail to you.” Well, that is true. What is a more important issue to talk about than the image of God?
When you apply the image of God to what you study in the Bible, you gain new insight into that area of study. That is what I have seen. Okay then, can submission be understood using the terms Powerful and Relational?
As you study submission, two approaches tend to show up. One is authority and submission, and the other is mutual submission. Think about this. Authority and submission—what is that? That might be obvious – it is the Powerful element of the image of God.
Then mutual submission is the relational aspect of the image of God.
Submission is a word about how people relate to each other, but there is a power element and a relating element in all relationships. For submission, the authority and submission approach is about ORDER in the relationship. On the other hand, the mutual submission approach provides the HARMONY in the relationship.
You reduce chaos in the relationship when you have order, and you reduce the flashing “me” in a relationship when you have harmony. Order is an impersonal structure, and harmony is a personal structure.
The problem with discussing submission is that people only want to talk about one side. Mostly, people want to talk about mutual submission. They only want to talk about how we are supposed to mutually submit one to another in fear of God.
I am definitely for that. But do not ignore the power, order, or authority and submission issue. That is equally important. Both need to be considered because Christians are to voluntarily put themselves under authority and carry the burdens for others. When you do it that way, with order and harmony, you practice submission in a way that fits the image of God.
Submission Displays the Mind of Christ
After studying submission, I would have had a better attitude about submission and may have been a better employee and leader. But it goes much further than that – a better husband, a better father, a better son, a better brother, and a better member of the body of Christ.
And that is precisely the point! It is easy to shy away from or ignore submission, which is our reason for calling it—The S Word. Do not talk about that! Right? People do not want to talk about submission; that’s too controversial.
And, of course, when it involves women to men or wife to husband, “Oh, don’t touch that one! That’s not politically correct!”
There is such a lousy view of this powerful word, which plugs directly into every relationship's solution. The minute you submit the way God wants you to, it not only demonstrates the mind of Christ but also cancels the flashing “me” altogether.
The mind of Jesus Christ is clearly shown in Philippians 2:3-8.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
When you use the mind of Christ, you think of others as more important than yourself. You put their interests in front of yours, as seen in verses three and four.
And then you see in verses five through eight that the mind of Christ lowers yourself to sacrifice for others and submits to the need of others.
That is precisely how Christ wants you to think about relationships.
Christ submitted to our needs. Christ has all authority. Everything lines up underneath Him. He is the authority – He provides the ORDER for the entire universe. He is in charge. But notice what He did. He took His authority and said, “I’m going to create harmony between you and Me. I have all authority. I can order anything to be how I want it, so I will provide the path for you to have HARMONY with Me.”
So, you can see the two elements of submission in those verses.
And submission is always voluntary for both order and harmony. You will either voluntarily line yourself underneath someone to support them – even if you are the leader or you will focus on whether they are lining up underneath you. When you lead, you do both submission elements – create order and harmony.
And when you submit that way, you demonstrate love – pursue the best for others; patiently, kindly, sacrificially, and unconditionally.
If you have the foundation of love, submission will be easier. So, I believe love comes first. It is the highest of all the values. And, when you submit with the correct intent of your heart, you are practicing God's love with others.