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.
Week 8 of 8 Submission
Since the first human being was called to work and keep God’s creation, we have created tools to empower fruitful work. The same is true in our spiritual pursuit of prayer. The Psalms have been the refined tools of prayer for God’s people for millennia.
Though some practices of prayer are lacking or misunderstood in certain circles, we want to lean into them for our focus on the discipline of prayer. One such practice is imaginative prayer. Ignatius of Loyala (1491-1556) called this contemplation. Ignatius was convinced that God can speak to us by the power of the Spirit as surely through our imaginative efforts in Scripture as through our thoughts and memories of Scripture.
The disciplines are practices that the Spirit of God often uses to do His work of shaping us to be more like Jesus. In light of the sharpening article from Tuesday, practice the discipline of prayer in this way today.