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From The Pastors

Regularly one of our pastors will share a sermon, reflections on religion, or what’s going on around the community and the world. Our current message is below:

Willing Submission

From Rev. Erik Buss, Assistant to the Pastor
August 4, 2020

We Americans value our independence, and we know it is vitally important for us to be able to make free choices about who governs us, what we choose to do with our lives, and what spiritual principles we make our own. So it’s not surprising that we react fiercely when someone else seems to be forcing us to do something we don’t agree with. Part of the intensity of our political dialog involves the varying ways in which each political party wants to provide for freedom, and impose restrictions on freedom. Both parties do some of each, but we are willing to submit to some kinds of restrictions on freedom more willingly than others.
This morning in my reading, I ran across a striking passage in the Word. It is about the external part of ourselves submitting to the inner part. That word “submission” is a loaded one because we know how painful it is to have to submit to someone else in ways we don’t want to. Yet a large part of spiritual living requires us to submit to the Lord’s will. Part of us sees that doing things His way will lead to happiness, and another feels trapped and cornered by the very rules the Lord offers us for our happiness and freedom. And so we compel ourselves to do what He says, and that often feels unpleasant. In time, if we persist, it becomes easier and less disagreeable.
The passage I read, though, offers a different perspective and an important one: “The subject is the temptation undergone by the external natural self, which persists until there is a willing submission to the internal celestial self…. The joining together of the external self and the internal is not effected without that temptation and willing submission.” (Arcana Coelestia 5729) On one level it seems that spiritual growth is about our inner self compelling the external self, but this passage shows that in point of fact the trials we go through happen until the natural self willingly submits to the inner self. The Lord—absolutely and completely—will not compel us to do what is right, both in internals and in externals. And He even requires us to come to the point that our own external self willingly submits itself to the inner self.
It seems, then, that the Lord’s respect for our freedom is often greater than our own. And this explains why the Lord is willing to allow things that seem so wrong to continue in the world longer than we might want. He will not force anyone’s hand; He awaits and urges our willing submission to His truth so that we can allow that truth to make us free, both in internals and in externals.