Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Walk as He walked

"He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6

This post is for my sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, we live in an age where many women in evangelical circles feel they need to take sides of theological theories to identify who they are. Let me state that I identify myself as neither a Complementarian nor an Egalitarian. I am a simple believer who is a daughter of God and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, so it is in Him where my sole identity lies, and of Him that I yearn to show forth to this world. 

Submission. As an unmarried woman, this was something I gave little to no thought to before. As a teenager, I joyfully committed my life completely to the Lord, and told Him I would serve Him however He wanted me to. Should that be a life of singleness, I'd happily follow Him, or should He say I could serve Him better in marriage, I'd happily follow Him. It wasn't until I was studying the role of the Church last year that I finally took a closer look at Eph 5:22-24.

We live in a time where my generation (the Millennials) are marrying later, and I know it is for many reasons, but there is one that I've heard many single Christian women say that lessens their desire for marriage, "Life in Biblical marriage is a life of subjection and submission." Let me just say that even though I am not married, I will say that I believe this mindset is such a misconception of God's Word and a lie from Satan to destroy the Church, marriage, and the light of Christ we were re-created to show forth to this dying world (2 Cor 5:17). It wasn't until this past year, as a 26 year old, that my view on submission drastically changed from the once twisted (and degraded) understanding of what I thought it was. Believe it or not, it was through studying the Trinity that I saw it in a whole new light.

When I heard "fear the Lord your God" I always thought of our almighty, powerful, holy, thundering, awesome, almost-scary, Creator God. I thought of Him as God the Father, who sits in majesty high above Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and even though I knew that God is three in one, I still thought of the Father as unreachable. Jesus I could connect to. The Holy Spirit I could appreciate. So delving into a study on the Trinity threw me for a loop, because I went into it with this twisted mindset of who God is. What shook me up the most, what broke me, what utterly humbled me and brought me to my knees, was coming to the realization that Jesus IS God; being begotten of the Father, thus is of the same essence as the Father, thus is very God of very God. I was utterly speechless and utterly in awe of who God is. I'm still wondrously speechless, because we have such a wondrous God!

Here are some amazing things the Lord taught me about Himself: God the Son is the Creator, "In the beginning was the Word...the Word was God...all things were made through Him, and nothing was made that was made." Jn 1:1-3, He is in the Father, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." Jn 1:18, and He is from eternity, "...whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting" Mic 5:2. After learning these things, I heard one preacher say it best, "to understand how low Jesus came, you first need to understand from how high He came." This is what turned my heart to want to understand submission. If anyone had a right to claim His rights, it was Jesus. His equal was God the Father, yet Jesus, as mighty and powerful as He was, willingly submitted to the could that be???

When I was coming to the realization of the grandeur of what Jesus actually did, I came across Philippians 2:5-11. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was as if I read these verses for the first time ever, even though I've read them a million times before. I wept over them with a broken heart of shock and thankfulness for what the Son had actually done. If there is anything in this post that I think is important, it is these verses:

"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 reputationtaking 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. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Our God willingly went out of His way to make Himself of no reputation. Our God willingly humiliated Himself to take the form of a bondservant. Our God, the Creator of the Universe and Creator of the humans nailing Him to a cross, willingly humbled Himself below their level to allow them to bring Him to the point of death...all the while with this in His mind: "Father...not My will, but Yours, be done." The Son of God was compelled by a love so deep that He willingly submitted Himself to the Father, because there was a greater need at stake other than Himself. The Son's submission to the Father is not degradation at all, but is love in the form of willing obedience. I see submission as love compelling you to completely humble yourself by utterly sacrificing self for the sake of another. 

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, because He is asking you to walk as He walked.

I was sorely mistaken when I thought submission is a strange practice reserved only for women in marriage. Instead, this is the beauty I found in it: It is the glorious and privileged role of the Church (Eph 5:23), therefore, it is supposed to also be the privileged role of the wife (Eph 5:25-29; 5:22-24); It is at the very center of the surrendered life of every woman or man who is a disciple of Christ (Php 2:3, Eph 5:21; Jas 4:7; 1 Pet 2:13); it is the feet of peace that carries us to serve one another (Mr 9:35), the arm that lifts up a brother or sister (1 Pet 5:5), and the heartbeat that keeps us loving one another (Rom 12:10). It's not a strange practice at all, but is meant to be a blessing to others. What really touched my heart is that the Lord Jesus has uniquely asked, not forced, women to take on the responsibility to especially imitate Him in this way. I believe the Lord desires all of His daughters, whether married or unmarried, to always keep Christ as our standard of imitation by always emulating Him in His beautiful submission, with a gentle and quiet spirit to the glory of God. Sisters, let's not entangle ourselves in the war on "women's rights" going on in the church today (2 Tim 2:4) - know who you are in Christ, and once you understand that, stand fast in the liberty and privilege of equality He has granted to all who are in Him! (John 17:21, Ga 5:1) ...because, there is a greater need at stake other than yourself: "that the world may believe."

As for the role of the wife, I (obviously) don't have much to say, only that I have come to believe that God specifically chose the wife to uniquely reflect the most prominent and beautiful character Christ showed in the relationship between the Father and the Son...willing submission. The Father did not submit to the Son; only the Son submitted to the Father, and between them was mutual honor and mutual love as One, being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So also, I realized for the first time, this is the true beauty in the husband and the wife being one (Gen 2:24)! I believe the wife has been given the responsibility to reflect the Son in His submission, with the added  privilege to relate to Him in a unique way the husband never will. I can't speak from experience, but from what I've witnessed (especially in my lovely mother), I think the role of a wife shows forth a beautiful and sweet love that the Son has with the Father, thus another reason why I believe her spirit is so very precious to Him (1 Pet 3:4). As the Son glorified the Father by submitting to Him, so too, I believe, the wife glorifies the Son by submitting to her husband, and the Son glorifies the Father through her...and of her the Father "will honor" Jn 12:26.

To my unmarried younger sisters: if you desire to be married, please don't be discouraged (Jn 15:11); if you desire to be single, keep giving your absolute all to serving Christ! I believe the Lord uses singleness in a unique way to bring others to Christ. Let Him use the uniqueness of what you have now to further His kingdom! Sisters, hear His voice daily and choose Him. Follow Him daily, serve Him daily, love Him daily, know you are loved by Him daily, and love others through Him daily. Rejoice if you've lived a life daily committed to our precious Lord Jesus Christ! Rejoice, too, if you've been called by God to live an honorable life, (sanctified to Him in your body and in your spirit, 1 Cor 7:34), committed to our beloved Lord Jesus and committed to furthering His kingdom (Mt 9:37)!

As for me, in a world where your identity as an independent woman is everything, I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. The worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord is so far surpassing than keeping my identity, that I now count it as rubbish, dung, and garbage, because I have only gained more of Christ by losing it.

Sisters, we have nothing to prove. We are ambassadors for Christ. We represent Christ. Our aim should be to please Him!

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us
2 Cor 5:20