Joy in Submission

Painting of Jesus Washing Peter's Feet by Ford Madox Brown

Painting of Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet by Ford Madox Brown

“Some things are so important”, wrote Søren Kierkegaard,  “that they cannot be communicated directly.” Joy in submission is one of those things. How would Kierkegaard attempt to indirectly explain this issue? I do not know. But I am willing to attempt an impossible task of thinking in Kierkegaardian manner as I address how serving is reigning in God’s kingdom. The concept I named, ‘Joy in Submission’.

We were made to reign. We were made to reign through serving. We were made to serve. The objects to which we serve define who we are. Some objects bring intrinsic joy and life when served. Others bring despair and death. Those that bring despair and death often promise intrinsic joy and life but deliver despair and death. Fame, sex, and money are objects that often promise intrinsic joy and life. When they serve us, they do deliver what they promised. But when we serve them, they bring despair and death.

Submission, in God’s kingdom, brings intrinsic joy and life. Submission is serving. Serving is reigning. Thus reigning is submission. Submission is a way of life. It is a way of life worth living. A life worth living is a passionate life. A passionate life glorifies God by enjoying Him now and forever. Enjoying God now and forever is a passionate living that rejoices in serving God through serving others. Serving others is submission.

Submission is thinking of ourselves less and others more. Thinking of ourselves less and others more is the first act of serving. It is thus the first act of reigning. Reigning by serving.  In serving reigning. Thinking of ourselves less is not thinking less of ourselves. Quite the contrary, it is thinking more of ourselves. Thinking of ourselves less is thinking more of ourselves. Thinking of ourselves less and others more is thinking of ourselves as servants and others our lords. If serving is reigning then the paradox unfolds.  It is the servants, and not the lords, that reign in God’s kingdom.

Submission leads a servant from beauty into loveliness and from shadowless light into the splendour of glory. The servant beholds the world beyond. The world beyond now dawning the visible. A new world. A world whose richness is not measured by how much her citizens possess, nay, but how much they serve and adore each other. In that world, the way up is the way down and the way down is the way up. A servant is a king. A servant king.

A servant king reign by serving. Reigning by serving is a joyful living. A joyful living springs from thinking of ourselves less and others more. In such moments where we think of ourselves less and others more, we are supremely joyful. Consider the moment when a loving father meets his newborn or a wanderer sees a sunrise and feels a spark of warm sunrays on her skin after a long and dark winter. In such moments, time stops. Though the quantitative time continues, the qualitative time everlastingly stops. In those joyful moments we reign by serving. We reign through serving by submitting to the moment. Submission is joyful. Supremely joyful.

8 thoughts on “Joy in Submission

  1. Prayson,

    Your comments on Joy in Submission rings a bell with me. I am presently working on a book, working title – Disciple, Slave, or Servant. The thrust of the book is that in accordance with Scripture, we are more readily identified as disciples and slaves rather than as servants but most folks wish to be a voluntary servant — i.e., when it suits them. Of course the reality of a slave is obedient submission and that is contrary to everything the 21st century American wishes.

    Thanks again,

    Don Brown +
    sou sundoulos Christou

  2. Your style of presenting your case here reminded me of Plato. That’s good company, I’d say. The best part of it is that you are announcing your own joy. If I was a believer, I would have to say that being joyful is a form of worship.

  3. Great post Prayson, thank you.

    In reading I’m reminded Of Galatians 5 where we read, “Freedom is what we have–Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again.” 5:1

    Slaves to what? Slaves to “letting your physical desires control you.” 5:13

    Instead, we are told to “let love make you serve one another. For the whole Law is summed up in one commandment: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 5:13-14

    What happens when man disregards this command? “if you act like wild animals, hurting and harming each other, then watch out, you will completely destroy one another.” 5:15

    The “key” word in your post, in my humble opinion, is JOY. The end of Galatians 5 tells us to, “let the Spirit direct your lives” 5:16. “The Spirit produces love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.” 5:22-23

    JOY: “For God’s Kingdom is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of the righteousness, peace, and JOY which the Holy Spirit gives.” Romans 14:17

    The Holy Spirit is the Source of Joy. His Presence brings joy. His fruit is joy. His Wisdom increases our joy. Uncommon peace is a gift from an uncommon God. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) The Holy Spirit helps us to develop the mind of Christ. Romans 8:6.

    The Holy Spirit will give us discernment. “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape the devil’s trap . For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” 2 Timothy 2:23-25. When the Holy Spirit is in leadership, we will discern these people quickly.

    Want a real-life awakening? Read the whole Book of Ecclesiastes and see what King Solomon figured out. “I have seen everything done in this world, and I tell you, it is all useless. It is like chasing the wind. You can’t straighten out what is crooked; you can’t count things that aren’t there.”

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  5. Interesting angle, and good on you for trying to advance a new argument! Applause for that alone. I recall in an earlier post you started in towards this idea in saying “to worship is to love.” My objection then still stands, and given this new emphasis is perhaps stronger now than before. In your hypothesis we were “created.” We had no say in this matter. We were brought into existence whether we liked it or not; an existence which by your premise is to be indebted to this creator forever, never free. We are, by your definition, born into servitude. You say then the joy is in submission, which is a fair return volley, but it ignores the fact that—by your hypothesis—if the created does not adore the creator as directed they will be punished. That is not a free arrangement. The threat is permanent, and only slave-owners and dictators threaten those whom they feel below them.

    A truly equitable arrangement would be if the created was encouraged to reach godhead… to be equal, yet still unique. Christian theology does not suggest this.

    I think also one must look to James Rachel’s “God and Moral Autonomy” argument here to put things in even greater perspective.

    1. We are moral agents with moral autonomy and a responsibility to exercise it
    2. Abandoning one’s moral autonomy is immoral
    3. God is a perfectly good being worthy of worship
    4. Worship is the recognition of one as inferior and subordinate to a greater being
    5. Worship of God includes the total abandonment of one’s moral autonomy in favour of blind, non-questioning obedience of God
    6.This is immoral, unless we can continuously be sure the being we are worshipping is (perfectly) good, and that the being we are worshipping is indeed a (or the) “God”
    7. To continuously evaluate whether a being is good requires moral judgment, which requires moral autonomy
    8. Therefore it is not possible to continuously evaluate if a being is good while also worshipping it
    9. Therefore, worshipping necessarily requires abandoning one’s moral responsibility, which is immoral
    10. Therefore, no being is worthy of worship
    11. Therefore, God does not exist

    In short – worship makes it impossible to know the object of worship is good, and a non-good object of worship isn’t worthy of worship. It is said that it can be known that God is good, and that God is worthy of worship, which is a contradiction, which cannot exist.

    • Brilliantly said John. I think I agree with much you affirmed but would differ with what you reject. Submission as I argued, in Christian context, brings joy depending on the object to which we submit to. The dynamic of such relation unfolds who we in turn become.

      My argument, if there was any(it was suppose to be Kierkedian), is that if God of Christianity exists, then the order of things, namely a servant is a master is true. With that assumption I show the joy in it.

      My whole project fails if one reject God’s existence and particularly God as revealed by Jesus of Nazareth’s followers, a prior. Thus this issue is particularly for insiders, Christians, and meaningless and(or) useless to none Christians.

      With that said I respect your position and do not expect any sense of agreement from my none believing friends. 🙂

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