1 Peter 2:13-25
Submission is a distasteful word to modern ears. We celebrate freedom, and we interpret it to correspond with autonomy. Thus we champion an individual who breaks rules or flouts moral convention. We applaud those who break marriage vows because it constrains them. We cheer anti-government tweets and demonstrations. To be truly free, we think, is to have no one to submit to but yourself.
It works differently in God’s kingdom. First, submission is not opposed to freedom. For true freedom is the ability to exercise our abilities, desires, and will according to God’s own design and purpose. And it begins with our submission to God himself.
The gospel is an invitation to true submission. It is a call to descend from our self-constructed thrones and bow the knee to our true master – Jesus Christ.
Following this, we submit to the structures and relationships designed by God for our flourishing as humans. And this includes government, marriage and family, and even work relations.
Yes, in a broken world, many of these structures don’t work well. We know of oppressive governments (even Peter wrote his letter under one). Marriages are started for selfish and vain reasons. Employers abuse their workers.
Yet Peter reminds us that our Saviour had been there:
‘When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.’ (v. 23)
When we submit to lawful authority and relations, even when flawed, we point beyond them to the common relation shared by every human with God. This rises like a compass drawing every other social relation to its standard of love, truth, and righteousness.
In other words, through our submission, we point to Christ.