I want to share an excerpt from my new book True Freedom: What Christian Submission and Authority Look Like. The word ‘submission’ is not a very popular word, of course, and you might think that this is a read you’d rather avoid.

But this book is really about relationships. It’s about seeing authority not as a synonym for ‘control’, but rather as God’s pattern of ensuring life. Many of us have a love/hate relationship with authority, but I think that this book will help you to discover that ‘authority’ is really another word for ‘love’ – if it’s rightly understood.

By understanding submission and authority, you will
1. Grasp your spiritual authority over the powers of the enemy
2. Improve the quality of your relationships
3. Manage conflict well
4. Know God’s design of order in marriage
5. Relate to authority figures with greater ease
6. Understand God’s design for leadership

This book is especially helpful for members of ministry teams, because the principles I talk about will, if applied, spare both leaders and team members alike a lot of unnecessary pain. If you check out my website or call my office at (615) 496-0044, you can place bulk orders for these books at substantially reduced rates.

Herewith, a small sample of True Freedom…

Authority – Another Word For Love

A few years ago, speaking at a family retreat, I was teamed with a young leader who was there to minister to the youth, while I addressed the adults. During our short time together, he told me a fascinating story from his own ministry that underscores the truth that real authority is about real love… and real boundaries is about real freedom. He told me that in his hometown he sponsors events designed to reach teenagers. One weekend he had planned a big party, he said, and had committed to picking up a junior high girl from her home and driving her to the event. He asked one of her friends to accompany him. When they drove into the driveway, they noticed her father watering his garden. Soon the young girl came bounding out of the door. She was provocatively dressed, this sprite of a thirteen year-old girl, looking more like a streetwalker than a junior high student. As she approached the car, she passed her dad who was fussing over his roses. “Bye, dad,” she said. He looked up at her and simply responded, “Bye, honey. Have a good time!” When she climbed into the car, she seemed distant and glum.

When they got to the gymnasium where the event was being held, she excused herself to use the restroom. She showed up a few minutes later transformed. The short shorts and plunging neckline were gone. Now she was the picture of modesty, dressed in a nice pair of jeans with a top that was much less revealing.

As he continued telling me the story, he recounted that he was completely thrown by this. Was this not the little vixen dressed to kill that he had picked up just a half hour earlier? He was puzzled so he went to her friend and asked her why the sudden transformation. She quickly responded by saying, “Oh, I know exactly what’s going on. Her father doesn’t love her.” She went on to say that her peers tested their parents all the time in ways like this, just to see if they provided boundaries. She explained that what this other girl was doing was seeing if her dad would love her enough to tell her to change her clothes. “Obviously,” she concluded, “Her father doesn’t care enough to focus on her.”

For these girls, boundaries were a significant part of the language of love. And that is what the Lord wants us to see. He wants to so radically change our thinking about authority that when we hear the word ‘boundaries’, we actually hear the word ‘love.’

I am a writer of songs and books. I have original manuscripts of songs I wrote when I was fourteen, and have taken pains to preserve them through several moves. I have put them in specially marked boxes, and have been careful not to lend the manuscripts out. I also have a number of cassette tapes on which I have recorded original melodies and songs, and which I have carefully preserved. My kids – all who play the piano – know not to tamper with my tapes, lest they inadvertently damage or record over one of them.

Why have I been so precise about these ‘boundaries’? Because I have authored something that I feel is so valuable as to be irreplaceable. I am not motivated to set these boundaries because I enjoy power, or want to control those around me. I am motivated because I keenly desire to preserve what I’ve authored.

God has ‘authored’ you and me. His love is so intense that He sets laws in place, and establishes consequences when those laws are violated. Why? Just as I don’t want my recordings to be erased and recorded over, so God doesn’t want you and me to be destroyed. So ‘authority’ is not about controlling, but preserving what has been created. So, even when God says
‘No’ it really is His ‘Yes.’

Nobody likes to be told “No.” Even though we may know that it’s for our best, it stings a little when someone legitimately blocks our desires. Especially if the one doing the telling is an authority figure. People who tell other people ‘no’ can candy-wrap it in five or five hundred love languages and it still will not go down easy. As a teenager, I would sit there and listen to my parents tell me why the boundaries (read that ‘screws’) they were putting on me was all because they loved me. Sounded like a lot of spin-doctoring to me. Like they just enjoyed the therapy they derived from bossing a helpless youth around. “Son, it hurts us more to say ‘no’, here, than it is for you to have to hear it.” Who were they kidding?

It’s hard for us to see this sometimes. But this is how God works with us. He has given us boundaries in His Word. He has delegated His authority in varying degrees to other people and institutions – like civil governments – and expects us to align to those authorities. To us this might smack of control and seem to threaten our freedom. But if we understand – and, yes, even submit to – the authorities God has ordained, then we will experience an inner confidence that we have never known before.

As you embrace the biblical concept of legitimate authority, you will align yourself with God—and reap the blessings of true freedom.

Grace and Peace,

Steve Fry