I’m individualistic by nature. Even now, as a Christian, the word “submission” can make my hair stand on end. I don’t like being under authority. I want to do what I want to do. Don’t tread on me.
In part, I’m a product of my culture. Let’s face it, submission is not what made us a nation. Though we have “authorities,” we don’t really feel beholden to obey them. After all, we elect them. They answer to us, which we take to mean that we are the authorities.
This mindset permeates every area of our lives, even as Christians. We like to think we choose God, when in fact it is He who chooses us (Jn 15:16, Eph. 1:4). We are very good at deluding ourselves into thinking we are submitting to Christ by re-imagining Him as someone who supports our interests, a God who backs our agenda. Or maybe that’s just me.
But perhaps it’s not a distinctly American trait, and perhaps it’s not just me. Peter had big plans for Jesus, big political plans. He expected Jesus to overthrow the rule of the heathen Romans and make Israel great again. So when Jesus told His disciples that He planned to suffer, be rejected, and die, Peter rebuked Him. Jesus’ reply to Peter’s rebuke should come as a shock to us all:
‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’ And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.’
Peter’s mind was on “the things of man.” He wanted what we all want: influence, strength, prosperity, and freedom from the oppression of government. Jesus called those desires satanic.
Christ is calling us to give up our satanic hopes and our covetous dreams and submit our desires to His. I’ll admit, even today I still I want to do what I want. I still love my stuff. I don’t really want to kiss any of it goodbye. But the question is, do I love Christ more? Am I willing to give up the kind of life I’ve loved in exchange for the kind of life He lived? Will I take up my cross and follow Him? Will you?