What is it that the world tells us to trust in today? Job security, finances, family, education… Most often, it is some form of individualism that relies on a deep trust in one’s self to achieve goals, to prosper, and be a happy individual. This mode of thinking is pervasive in our culture today, and it sits upon the shakable rock of self-trust. This philosophy that we can be our own saviors stands in direct opposition to why we were created.
Created for God
The God of the universe has created us to seek and find our entire fulfillment, and joy in Him alone (Is 43:7, Jn 15:11). All of these desires for purpose and happiness are good when they are centered on God alone, but are tainted and twisted by the sinful nature that all humans are born with (Pslam 58:3, Eccles. 7:20).
Freedom Through Dependence
But finding value, significance, and happiness in God comes at a cost that opposes what people today hope for. Most people see their ability to strive for purpose and happiness as a direct result of their freedom to make choices. Their goal is to live the best life possible. The problem with this is, yet again, the truth. Jesus says that all who practice sin are slaves to sin (John 8:34). With this being the case, we see that freedom can’t be truly realized while we are subject to the power of sin over our lives. This burden of sin is lifted only through turning from sin towards faith in Jesus, who lived a perfect life, took the death we deserved for our sin, and was raised again from the grave to defeat the power of sin and death. This work of Jesus on the cross takes away the power of sin in the lives of his people, that is, those who trust in Him (Rom. 6:14). This undeserved love (grace) from God through Jesus Christ is what gives us true freedom to live as new creations (Gal 5:1, 2 Cor. 5:17).
All this to say; freedom doesn’t come through independence and personal freedom of choice, but through desperate and whole-hearted dependence on God’s grace. Independence, rather, will lead one to hope and trust in anything but Jesus, which leads to death (Rom 6:23).
The Joy of Submission
Dependence also implies submission. Let’s take work for example. If your hope is placed in advancing in the workplace, getting a raise, or simply being praised for an admirable work ethic, then you become dependent on your boss for these needs. This dependence will drive you to submission (the will of the employer), as you seek to please and honor your boss’ commands and wishes. In the gospel, we see this same form of submission play out between the believer and God. The difference is (and here is where our analogy falls short) that God freely gives all things to those who love Him. Joy, peace, hope, purpose, significance, and abundantly more than we could ever ask for are ours through Jesus (Rom. 8:32). Submission to the will of God is the simplest and most joyful of responses when you look at what we are freely given because of Jesus. In Christ, we are not just servants of God but His children in whom he delights (Gal 3:26, Zeph 3:17).
Unlike a career, the truths of freedom in Christ and submission to Him are eternal, and will stand strong and immovable in the midst of all our sorrow, struggles, and sufferings in this world. In all of this, God is faithful and loving to His children. We can trust that he is at work for His glory and our good at all times and in all circumstances (Rom. 8:28), and that any sufferings we experience in this life are not worth comparing to the glory that is being prepared for us in heaven (2 Cor. 4:17).
In Us and For Us
As we turn from the bondage of sin with repentant hearts toward God, there is not some type of mundane and robotic walk in the path of obedience with a faint hope of heaven at the end of this life. There is a radical breaking free from the bondage of sin, and a grateful heart to praise God for sending Jesus out of the paradise of heaven on our behalf. He gives us the Holy Spirit, and we are enabled to joyfully run after the heart of the God who saved our soul! The life of a Christian is shaped by what God has done for us because of His great love (1 Jn 4:10). In light of such a love, I am honored to submit.