Isn't it just like us to take the raw material clay of our lives and fashion it into something we think is awesome, even garnished with something absolutely good, and not realize how totally useless it really is?
While teaching an adult Bible study I asked the adults to react to this statement: “Submission is dangerous”. The answers were varied but all followed one significant theme – fear. Those who answered said things like: “Where will submission take me?” “What will submission cost me?” “Submission will open Pandora’s box.”
In every answer, the viewpoint reflected the idea that total submission was something to be feared and our attitudes toward it are naturally defensive. Especially in light of our culture of personal and political freedom in the United States. Here we value being free and dislike anything that restricts that freedom; something like submission to someone or something else. We view submission as robbing us of freedom, of control, of individualism, of being able to choose our own destiny.
How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, "He didn't make me"? Does a jar ever say, "The potter who made me is stupid"? Isaiah 29:16 (NLT)
I then shared the following paragraph for their consideration:
Submission is dangerous. It is dangerous to selfishness, to I’m-better-than-you, to the tyranny of power over people. It is dangerous to the culture’s 50/50 view of marriage. It is dangerous to our former selves – the people we were before Jesus. It is dangerous to lazy marriages because it draws us to a deeper level of faith and intimacy than we have ever gone before. It is dangerous to selective discipleship because it bids us deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Jesus. It is dangerous to convenient church engagement because it demands that we forsake ourselves for the sake of serving others in the body and building Christ's Kingdom. Submission is servanthood. Submission is dangerous.
As the adults considered this the looks on their faces began to change. They had been guilty of holding the same secular viewpoint toward submission as those without a relationship with God through Christ; that submission was to be feared and avoided. The paragraph above reflects a perspective of submission on the offensive, the life submitted to Christ that invades and changes the culture one life and relationship at a time.
Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? Romans 9:20-21 (NLT)
Rather than viewing submission as something to be avoided, followers of Jesus should view submission as something to be embraced, because only then will God be able to mold and shape us into vessels of value and beauty that will impact lives around us.
Does this sound unnatural? Absolutely! That’s because it is SUPERnatural. It is the attitude of Christ, who himself was totally committed and submitted to his Father’s will, even to the point of suffering a horrible, shameful, and illegal death. Reread the Gospel narratives concerning Jesus’ betrayal, trials, crucifixion, and death, and also Philippians 2:5-8. Jesus was completely submitted, and his submission resulted in great power being released. God raised him from the dead. God used what Jesus willingly laid down to impact every human life for all time.
And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Isaiah 64:8 (NLT)
When I was a child I enjoyed playing in the mud. One of my favorite things to do in the mud was making mud pies. One day my parents brought home some fresh strawberries from the market. Now, strawberries are my all-time favorite! I thought to myself, with typical immature child-like thinking, "Why not add some fresh strawberries to my mud pies? That would make them awesome!" So I sneaked into the kitchen, took a carton of strawberries, and added them to several of my choicest mud pies. Of course, my mother soon discovered the missing strawberries…
Isn't it just like us to take the raw material clay of our lives and fashion it into something we think is awesome, even garnished with something absolutely good, and not realize how totally useless it really is? How useful is a mud pie? Can you eat it? Digest it? Can anyone benefit from it? It may give a child some enjoyment for a brief period of time, but in the end, it's worthless. Just like our lives when we assume we can fashion them into something wonderful on our own.
When we submit our lives to the molding and shaping of God, the Master Potter, he then can make our lives into something valuable and beautiful for his glory and our benefit. Why should we try to offer God mud pies of our own making when he can take the clay of us and make something infinitely more magnificent?
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