A while ago, I had to apologize to someone for inappropriate Christian conduct. In a moment of frustration, I’d “vented” about another follower of Christ. Not long after, however, I felt a prick in my spirit. I knew, not only had I sinned, but I’d set a poor example of what it means to live in Christ. Convicted, I reintroduced the conversation the next time we met, stating that I’d been wrong. “I need more Jesus,” I said, to which my friend replied, with raised eyebrows, “More Jesus?”
I knew this person instantly thought of my outward displays of religion—my blog posts, articles, and video devotions. The assumption: that doctrinal understanding and “spiritual words” equated Spirit-led living.
Paul, a man who’d once prided himself on his superior religious knowledge, pointed his readers to a much different, and frankly, more challenging standard of living. He told us to follow Christ’s example and walk in the way of sacrificial love.
This type of love, especially in the church, could be encapsulated in one word: submission. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” he wrote. He then spent the remainder of the chapter and the first half of the next explaining precisely what this type of living might look like in various relationships: in marriage, in families, in positions of authority, and under authority. In short: take the humble role. The sacrificial role. The role of a servant.*
That is what Spirit-led and empowered living looks like, what Christ’s body and interconnected family should look like—one of mutual submission as we seek to honor, not ourselves and really, not even one another, but rather, Christ.*
When we live like that—when we choose humility over pride, honor one another above ourselves, and actively model the love of the One who willingly gave Himself up for us, that we, in turn, might be able to “give ourselves up” for one another, we display the power and mystery of the gospel. A gospel that unites us all into one deeply connected and inseparably unified family.
Reciting verses or writing blog posts is often easier than showing the humble, sacrificial love of Christ. At least, that’s the case for me. Choosing to live in submission, however, pricks my pride and can easily trigger fear.
But God never asks me to do this blindly. My actions must be wise, led by Him, the One who knows all and loves all, me included! The One who has a glorious and amazing plan for me and every individual He calls me to love and also whoever might be watching from the sidelines.
In other words, His call to love humbly and sacrificially is never without purpose. His gaze always remains fixed on eternity and the party that’s coming, where pain and pride and selfishness will be no more and the joy will never end.
Each time we love one another as Christ loves us, we’re bringing a bit of heaven to earth. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped crafting blog posts, articles, or devotions. To the contrary. I believe God’s assigned these tasks to me, but they should always be done first and foremost out of love for Him and others. Because it doesn’t matter how many words I type, if don’t also humbly live them out, and to do that, I need Jesus. Lots of Jesus. We all do, and praise God, by grace, we have access to all the Jesus we need.
*Please note, God does not encourage or condone abuse. If you are in an abusive relationship, please get help.