“... for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” ~2 Timothy 1:7 (NRSV).
The concept of submission confuses many a Christian. We’ve perhaps all fallen for it. Ordinarily submission is a good thing. But there are two types of submission; one enshrined in the wisdom of righteousness, the other a submissive folly based in the fear of timidity.
The difference naturally is the presence or absence of the courage of faith.
A Divinely-Appointed Submission
The first type of submission—the one in the sights of the Apostle Paul—sets itself on being inspired of God toward backing ourselves in, by faith.
Featuring for those backing themselves in is the definitive Presence of Power. Their submission originates in the acuity of discernment. Spiritual inspiration, once discerned, is trusted—we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
This is a pure, and an assured, sort of submission. A worldly person might see it as confidence. They might wonder at the mystery—a quietly humble, yet honourable, way—that travels with the servant of God who stakes their life in truth.
The Submission of Ease
There are so many versions of submission that miss the mark. The submission of ease seems the way to go, but it never wins the day.
The submission that Paul found Timothy bound by was the variety characterised by timidity—a self-protective mechanism that proved to be no protection at all. Instead, Paul commended Timothy to fan the flame of the Spirit, and rekindle the gift of God which was pioneered by the Spirit’s anointing and proffered further by faith.
But realistically, there are thousand or more forms of the easy submission that don’t work; these are all rooted in the fear variants of self-consciousness, anxiety, negative self-talk, plain fear, helplessness, and hopelessness. There is an ease at which one of these picks each of us out—everyone has their fatal flaw; a customised fear that clings and opposes the divinely-appointed submission of faith.
One Central Reason To Back Ourselves
It makes logical sense to revolt against the fear that self selects our personalities. But most people, and especially Christians, find themselves in a so-called safe territory to remain in a submission of ease. The sense to walk by faith makes sense when we see it done, but there is an even more fundamental reason to do it—to live for truth.
We must back ourselves in the spirit of faith for one solitary reason. Our Lord paid a princely sum for each of us to enjoy power in the Holy Spirit.
God has sought us and bought us, and given us the wherewithal to live with power, grace, and a humble confidence. As we live for truth, discerning our way, we sense God’s hand of blessing upon us. Really, we are blessed for backing ourselves in when we live for truth.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.