There’s a incorrect popular idea in masculine culture ,and especially even Christianity, that the practice and idea of submission is primarily the responsibility of the woman. The usual themes I see on Twitter, Facebook, college campuses, Sunday mornings, Wednesday night Bible studies, etc., go something like this:
Woman Submits to Man, Man Submits to nobody. Man is King.
Let’s look at the story of a famous King and see how the popular idea of submission matches up.
So there was a man who God called to preach to a city called Nineveh; his name was Jonah. After a crazy journey to get there, he finally preaches to the city of Nineveh to repent – to turn away from their sin and turn to God. This was the King of that city’s response:
6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water,8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
The city of Nineveh was horrible, very much like the terrorist culture of Al Qaeda. They were known for torturing folk, pillaging other nations, and the worship of various false gods. The King of this city literally ran all of these things. He was the head. Nineveh was his world, or so he thought. However, peep the text and let’s peep what he does in light of the message Jonah preached:
1. Arose from his throne
The King of this mighty nation, the ruler of everything around Him, this man of renown and power, arose from his throne. This man had a seat of authority, influence, wealth, power, women, you name it. But in response to God, the King got off of his throne. This points to the fact that he was willing to give all of what he had up to be in alignment with what God’s desires were for him.
2. Removed his robe
The robe of the King was a public display of his position. This is who he was. Folk saw this Kings robe and knew who he was. This was his identity. Again though, this man was willing to give up who he found himself to be, as well as who others found Him to be in response to God.
3. Put on sackcloth and sat in ashes
Even without knowing the Bible, The King was able to understand God’s will to such an extent that He was willing to take off “everything” and put on nothing. In this realization, the King was able to put on humility- and to sit in humility. All in response to a message from God.
Keep reading the text. Look at how he took these steps in response to God, leading his community to follow suit. This is what Biblical submission looks like for men. Men are called to submit to God. They are called to get off of the thrones of their own hearts, take off the identity given to them by the world, and sit in humility- agreeing to the role that God has for them- which is always one of leadership in some degree, and always one that leads others to turn to God.
So we know what submission is, but the question is how do we do this? It’s hard to get off the throne of your own herd, take off your identity that the world gives you, and then sit in humility. I dare say it’s impossible. So how do we do it? Quick verse and we’ll wrap up part 1…
Philippians 4:12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
The answer is Jesus. We need Him for us to submit … that means we repent -turn away from our sins and turn to Him, to believe in His work on His Cross where he paid the debt of sin against God that we owe. Through Him we can do this thing men. Next time we’re going to talk about another King who submitted so that we can really unpack this thing even further.
Part 2 coming soon!
grace and peace.