Theme of the Week: Bible Reading
Bible Verse: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” 1 Peter 2:13
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:13-21
A friend of mine used to work as an engineer in northern Ontario. He described how there was this one extremely narrow logging road, where an oncoming big logging truck and a normal vehicle could not pass each other. Custom dictated that the normal vehicle would pull over into the forest (always unable to get back on the road by itself) and the logging truck would pass. Then the logging truck would tow the smaller vehicle back onto the road. Then each would go on their merry way.
I may be forgetting some details, but I remember saying to my friend, “That’s crazy! What if the truck doesn’t care to tow you back onto the road? What if the truck isn’t able to connect to the car?” My friend told me that it always worked out.
This story reminds me of the concept of submission taught in 1 Peter and in other parts of the Bible. Biblical submission requires one party to yield to another party, in order that the second party carry out its mandate, which also includes acting kindly towards the first party. When it works well, everyone benefits. With the vehicle on the narrow logging road, if the car didn’t submit and move off the road, the two vehicles would be at a stalemate. But by submitting, the smaller vehicle allows the logging truck to move forward, enabling it to serve the smaller vehicle by towing it back onto the road. It’s a win-win situation.
The apostle Peter writes a great deal about submission in 1 Peter:
- the people were to submit to every authority instituted in society, government in particular (2:13)
- slaves were to submit to masters (2:18)
- wives were to submit to husbands (3:1)
I understand that the topic of submission can be controversial even in the church, as it applies to the husband-and-wife relationship. There are concerns that submission can lead to abuse on the part of the husband, whether physical or otherwise. I also understand that the non-Christian world might find submission to be an archaic concept, particularly when slavery is mentioned. The overall concern is that submission can lead to a win-lose relationship, and unfortunately, that is a possibility.
But I also understand that the Bible isn’t simply penned by human writers. Its ultimate authorship belongs to God, and all the Bible’s teachings are God’s teachings. God’s words on submission are found not only in 1 Peter but also in several other places in Scripture. God calls certain groups of people to place themselves under the leadership and care of other persons, in order that these relationships might work most harmoniously. Ideally, it results in a win-win scenario.
God endorses submission because it depicts beautifully how God the Son submits to God the Father. Jesus, as Almighty God, doesn’t have to submit to anybody, but if He always chooses to follow the way of submission, should we do any less?
Prayer: Lord, keep teaching me about submission, both in theology and in practice. Help me to Biblically submit in my relationships, such as to the government or to my boss.
Reflection: Do I find it hard to submit to the government? Do I respect police when I see them on the road? Do I submit to my pastors, even when I disagree with them? Do I submit to my boss?
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