James 3.17-18We didn't get to the end of verse 18. We got stuck right there.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive...
If you ever want to experience a tough teaching or preaching challenge try preaching the word "submissive" to a group of male maximum security inmates.
But this word doesn't just stick inside a prison. Few of us have any interest in being submissive. I don't.
So here's what I said to the guys in the study.
When we think of submission we shouldn't think of it being one-directional and asymmetrical, where one group or person asks another group or person to submit. In those instances you end up creating a power differential, with one group dominating and lording over another group. That's not what James has in mind.
What James has in mind is what I'll call an economy of submission.
An economy of submission is the mutual, reciprocal, flowing exchange of submission. More, it's an economy of gifts freely given and received. This is the notion of mutual submission, servant-heartedness, and koinonia. The vision here isn't one group trying to get another group to submit. That's an exercise of power. Rather, the vision is of participating in loving community with each responsive to the needs of the other.
An economy of submission. An economy of gifts.