Why Is It Hard To Submit?
by Stephanie Olson, Co-Founder Set Me Free Ministries
This summer I spent a week with my family enjoying a relaxing time on a vacation. We spent every day at the pool, having fun in the sun and fighting crowds of people in the wave pool. And each day I would watch every single child’s face fall at the sound of the whistle that signaled the dreaded safety check! Ah, yes, the safety check. These days, I love the safety check. That’s the time, as an adult, that I get to head into the pool without the … well, shall we say … without all of the kids.
During every safety check, there are always a few kids who take their sweet little time to get out of the pool. There is always the child who wants to break the rules. And then one safety check I watched something very interesting–a parent holding her young child.
When the whistle blew, she did nothing to remove her child from the pool. Okay, that, in and of itself, is not so terrible, I suppose. Maybe she didn’t understand that her child had to go, even if she was holding her. But when the lifeguard blew the whistle, caught the woman’s attention, and motioned her out of the pool, she still did nothing. Even when the lifeguard approached the woman and asked her to remove her child, the woman only slowly, and with an attitude, walked out of the pool with her daughter. Why such blatant rebellion? Why such a lack of submitting to the authority of the pool?
Look at what Paul tells us in Romans 13:1-2: "Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished."
In the Amplified version, this same scripture says, "For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God's appointment." In other words, there is no authority that God doesn’t allow. So whether we are talking about the lifeguard at the pool, a leader in our church, or our boss at work, we are called to submit to authority. Not always easy, is it?
I recently heard a story about Ivan Segedin, a 39-year-old man from New Zealand. New Zealand created a law that made it illegal to not wear a seatbelt and allowed police officers to stop people for not wearing them. But Ivan hated wearing a seatbelt. So much so, in fact, that he was stopped and fined 32 times for seatbelt offenses, until he finally created a fake seatbelt that simply gave the appearance that he was wearing a seatbelt. The great length that Ivan went to worked well until he was killed in a low-impact car accident.
You see, when we choose not to submit to authority, the effects can be disastrous–even deadly–whether that authority is human authority that God puts in place or God Himself. Why, oh why, do we have to submit? Well, without authority in place, there is chaos, isn’t there? Too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.
Now let me make very clear. I’m not talking about abusive authority or any authority that asks you to be disobedient to God. This is not appropriate authority. But we must learn to submit to authority in our lives, because we must ultimately learn to submit to God.
What is the goal of learning to submit? Ah, that’s the issue. Our submission to spiritual authority teaches us to submit to God. But why is it so important to submit to God? Because God knows what is best for us more than we ever could!
I found a great, yet painful, quote from blogger Matt Holcomb. He said, "Find a person who understands submission to authority and you’ll see a person who is humble, full of love, unselfish, accountable, and personally responsible. Find a person who does not understand submission to authority and you’ll see a person who is prideful, full of criticism, selfish, self-ruled, and spiritually irresponsible."
It’s all about humility! James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” When we humble ourselves before the Lord, we are elevated!
Submission is not always an easy thing to do; however, when we understand why we are called to submit and whom we are ultimately submitting to (even when we are submitting to a human authority), we recognize that our willingness to submit will not only benefit us in the end, but, more importantly, it will glorify God!