I Belong to You. You Belong to Me. (OR What I Learned About Submission from Watching West Wing)

This week I’m volunteering at my church’s Champs Camp. It’s basically VBS meets sports camp with the purpose of reaching our community for Christ. We’re so serious about reaching unchurched kids we don’t even allow our kids to come (unless their parent is volunteering). Camp runs from Monday to Thursday, 9 to 2:30. 

It is exhausting. At the end of the day I drive straight to McDonald’s and buy a large, icy diet coke, which I inhale. Today I bought two. 

I appreciate Champs Camp. I love getting to know the kids. I love our crazy dance parties. I love beating a ten year old boy in knock out. And I love hearing stories about kids who’ve convinced their parents to come to church on Sunday for the first time in a long time.

But if I’m being honest, Champs Camp isn’t exactly my cup of tea. It’s a lot of silly and a lot of keeping track of name-tags, water bottles, who’s in the bathroom… and a lot of interacting with people. For an introvert, Champs Camp is a challenge. For a distracted, forgetful introvert, it’s like boot camp (assuming you’re not in shape for boot camp and boot camp involves cheers and crafts and lots of loud songs about Jesus). What I’m trying to say is, for me, it’s hard and occasionally unpleasant.

But I volunteer anyway. I volunteer because I serve at the pleasure of Robin Marrs.

More on that in a minute…

These days my husband and I can’t get enough West Wing. We had our first taste a few months back, and—praise be to Netflix—we’ve now consumed five seasons. I almost jumped ship following the disappointing departure of Sam Seaborne, but then that thing happened with Zoey and it seemed inappropriate to leave my friends in their time of need. 

Anyway, a few seasons back all the characters started saying this phrase. You’d hear it every time a person was called upon to do or say something they didn’t want to do or say. They’d put up a fight, lose the argument, and then say, sometimes with resolve, sometimes with angst, “I serve at the pleasure of the president.”

I’ve taken to saying it in my head when Justin asks if I would maybe, please wash a load of whites.

I planned today to write a post about serving at the pleasure of the Lord, about how serving at God’s pleasure is better than serving at man’s pleasure because God is perfect and because His pleasure is your good. 

Paul says, ”For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In lovehe predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

I think that post would have been good, because it’s true and convicting, but I think this one will be better because it’s equally true and, for me, ten times as convicting.

While we do whole-heartedly and absolutely commit our lives to serving the Lord, we’re also called upon to “serve at the pleasure” of God’s people.

Back to Champs Camp… 

If it were up to me, Champs Camp probably wouldn’t happen. Not because I don’t think it’s good, but because, as we’ve already pointed out, it’s not my thing. It’s Robin Marrs’s thing. She’s our children’s minister. She loves kids. She loves Jesus. She organizes with style and grace. She loves Champs Camp. 

And I love her. So I volunteer for Champs Camp.

Sure part of me is thinking “Do you know how many words I could have written today?” but I tell that part to shut up. Because I serve at the pleasure of Robin Marrs. 

In case it’s not clear, we’re talking about submission, about subjecting your own preferences and wishes to the preferences and wishes of someone else.

Submission is what makes church work; it’s the secret sauce in unity and cooperation and love. 

Paul writes in Romans, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about yourself—what improvements need to be made on your house, what kind of education your kids are getting, where you’ll spend your vacation or how you’ll spend your bonus check. I care a lot about what makes me happy.

And that makes a lot of sense if my life is mine.

But it’s not. 

When we’re a part of a body, what’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine:

If someone at your church loses everything in a fire, your couch is her couch.

If a crying baby needs to be held in the nursery, your arms are his arms.

If the elders ask you to give more generously, your money is their money.

If a widow needs a friend, your time is her time.

And if a friend plans an event to reach a bunch of people with God’s love, your week is her week.

It’s like that song, “I belong to you, You belong to me…”

Submission says, “I serve at the pleasure of the body.” 

In an hour or so I’ll head to Champs Camp. I’ll arrive at a building full of people, many of whom are perky morning people. There will be much smile-screaming. I may have to walk through a human tunnel. I will likely turn in circles as I hop on one foot with my tongue stuck out. I will probably be doused with water. 

And I will love it. Not because I love screaming and water balloons and ridiculous kids’ songs (I don’t really). I’ll love it because my brothers and sisters love it and because I love my brothers and sisters and because I “belong to all the others.”