Submit to God
For the Muslim, submission is a way of life. The very name of their religion, Islam, means “to submit.” In Islam, religion rules every aspect of life—the food that is eaten, the clothes that are worn, even the time taken for breaks at work. Nearly every phrase uttered regarding future plans begins with “Glory to Allah” and ends with “If Allah wills,” and any activity is interrupted if necessary for the five daily prayers. This is one reason that certain Islamic fundamentalist groups view the United States as they do. They see it as a “Christian nation,” yet a terribly inconsistent one. Christians claim to be religious, they say, but it shows only on Sundays. Instead of allowing Christianity to control their lives, they govern when and where God will be involved. God does not reign in every aspect of their lives, just certain spheres. Christians “turn on the religious button” at times, but then turn it off and flip on the entertainment switch, the vacation switch, etc., and leave God out. Muslims accuse Christians of partitioning their lives, and of not giving God the key to certain rooms. It is not so much the immorality that Muslims find distasteful, but the inconsistency.
It seems that, at least in some respect, Muslims may be onto something here. Despite their many errors, they are a model for Christians in this regard. The Qu’ran teaches: “The wandering Arabs say: We believe. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Ye believe not, but rather say ‘We submit,’ for the faith hath not yet entered into your hearts” (Surah 49:14). Is this not the essence of New Testament teaching? The Lord said while on this Earth: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). If this is not a call to submission, what is? It is not enough to believe in God. The demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). Belief is essential, but without submission, it means nothing.
While the idea is a simple enough concept to grasp, it can be very difficult to submit. We understand Christ’s command to mean that we must put away our own personalities, desires, and hopes, and take on His personality, desire, and hopes. This submission is not limited to certain aspects of our life either. It is not enough to submit to Christ only under certain circumstances or in certain crowds. It’s all or nothing. Christ wants nothing less than our whole person. We must not divide our lives into different spheres as the postmodernists assert we all inevitably do. Our life is knit together, and is unified by our submission to Christ.
This submission is one of action, not just of words. Muhammad’s problem with his fellow Arabs 1400 years ago was that they gave an oral profession of faith, but failed to demonstrate that faith in their lives. This is the same problem modern Muslims have with most Americans—we say one thing, but live another. Christ, our example, asks us to do no more than He Himself has done. “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). He submitted to the Father wholly, and He expects us to do the same.
One of the great differences between Islam and Christianity, however, is the result of godly submission. The Muslim submits himself in the hope that Allah one day will pardon him and allow him a place in glory. There is no assurance in this life though, because Allah, unlike the God of the Bible, is a transcendent deity so far above man that there is no interaction. He is not a personal God, nor is he ever called “father.”
After encouraging Christians to submit to God, James gave these comforting words: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). The Muslim has no assurance of salvation, but Christians have a God Who is near, and by following His will and submitting to His Son we may know that we have been saved. Let us therefore submit.