Submission to… Neighbors?

Written By Ben Beasley

When I think of the discipline of submission, this is what comes to mind: submitting to God (i.e. submitting my will to God’s will) and submitting to Scripture. I don’t often think about submitting to neighbors. Is this really central to the Christian life, just like submitting to God and Scripture?

Jesus says, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ ” (Matthew 22:37-38 NIV)

In the Gospel of Luke, a lawyer asked Jesus to give him a definition of who his neighbor was. Instead of responding to the question, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. The point of the story appears to be this: your neighbor is anyone who needs you. There’s no record of a response from the lawyer.

Submitting to our neighbors can mean a lot of things, but there’s no doubt it begins by simply noticing the needs of those around us.

Then we submit ourselves to meeting those needs. This was lived out by the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable, and it was embodied by Jesus himself. Out of His active love, God submitted himself to human flesh, and, through Jesus, He extended His very own hand to us in our need. Out of an overflow of this same love, we can extend our hands to those around us by submitting ourselves to their needs.

The practical theologian Richard Foster gives us these examples: “sharing our food, babysitting their children, mowing their lawn, visiting over important and unimportant matters, sharing our tools. No task is too small, too trifling….”

Small acts of kindness are acts of loving submission.

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Week 8 of 8 Submission

2 Comments

  1. Abby

    This is really great, Ben! This series has helped me parse the word submission beyond what I thought possible. I never really understood/didn’t like this word. I would often just ignore it, but now I see how rich and truly rooted submission is in Jesus’ life and in my walk with him. Happy to have something I initially held at arms length now so intracule in my day to day.

    Reply
    • Ben Beasley

      Thanks for your response, Abby! Our exploration of submission been helpful ‘redefinition’ for me too!

      Reply

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