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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Submission

In his landmark work, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster offers us guidance on twelve spiritual practices or disciplines. Foster identifies these as “classical” disciplines, not merely because they are ancient, but because they are central to experiential Christianity.

The seventh discipline in Foster’s list is the discipline of submission. There is something about this word that makes me bristle inwardly. I can wholeheartedly agree about the value of prayer, mediation, or even fasting, but submission? When I reflect on my discomfort, I realize it is not so much about the practice as the idea. Something about submission feels like a dirty word, in part because it has so often been preached to keep people in line with the demands of the cultural hierarchy. This has been especially true for women, and it has all too often been oppressive. Foster agrees that the discipline of submission has been “terribly misconstrued and abused”, however that does not lessen its importance to him. The mere fact that I find the idea difficult suggests I need to take a deeper look.

Foster highlights seven “acts of submission.” There is no room for detail here, but the seven are as follows.
The first act of submission is to the Triune God.
The second act of submission is to the Scripture.
The third act of submission is to our family.
The fourth act of submission is to our neighbours and those we meet in the course of our daily lives.
The fifth act of submission is to the believing community, the body of Christ.
The sixth act of submission is to the broken and despised.
The seventh act of submission is to the world including the environment.

The book offers only one brief paragraph in support of each of these, but it is enough to give us another way to look at this word.

Celebration of Discipline maintains that the Spiritual Disciplines are the door to liberation. Each discipline has a corresponding freedom, and the freedom associated with submission is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way.

I’m good with that.

Posted by Carman

3 comments:

  1. While I suspect Mr. Foster has a different view of God than do I, I have always felt that submission is critical to pursuing social justice.

    To my thinking, submission involves humility and the acknowledgement that all that is good in one's life is not a result of being better, or smarter, or more riteous than others.

    I like the notion of submitting oneself to teh broken and despised. It is an awakening that you are no more worthy of blessings and that, but for your own good fortune and the love of others, you may be in the same lot.

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  2. Chicken,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I especially appreciate your closing statement, "but for your own good fortune and the love of others, you may be in the same lot."

    When bad luck happens to others (cancer, job loss, etc.), we have all heard people say, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." If people would only stop and think about the theological implication of that statement. It implies that God's grace was with the speaker, but not the one on whom misfortune fell. Clearly most of us do not believe that.

    To say, as you have said, "but for your own good fortune and the love of others..." takes nothing away from the grace of God (however we see God), but gets us away from the idea that the victims of misfortune did not experience grace.

    Thank you!

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  3. My favorite line from 163:

    "Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare."

    Our welfare is not determined by our obedience to any God or our good fortune to be smiled on by any God - but in you devotion to community.

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