Christianity often calls us to act in ways contrary to the usual course of human behavior. At the heart of our relationship to God is the principle of submission, and most people don’t care to submit to anyone.
That is not a new tendency. For ages, people have had the idea that to be in subjection is to be inferior. If enough force is applied, some will submit, but so often that is only because of the force involved and comes with great reluctance and even hatred.
Yet, our submission to God is essential to our salvation. We are to obey, not because of threat or intimidation, but because of love. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Jesus went on to say, “he who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:24). Notice, even Jesus submitted to his Father’s will.
Hebrews 13:17 calls for Christians to be in subjection to church leaders, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls.” Romans 13:1 makes a remarkable statement, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Of course, no government has the authority to rule above God’s laws, but within those limits, we are to be law abiding citizens.
The idea of forbearance with one another is a kind of submission. Philippians 2:3 tells us, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” Selfishness is natural, but God calls upon his children to recognize a higher standard.