This weekend, Chris is going to be teaching on the topic of "mutual submission." That ugly word just doesn't seem to go away. I've had the privilege of participating in a few conversations lately on the subject and what it comes down to, is the concept itself, totally designed by God is a beautiful thing. It's the actual word that causes stomach turning, lumps in throats and hot flashes. Especially in newlywed circles, this becomes a hot issue. I'm sure in the next few weeks as we progress through the book of Ephesians, submission between husband and wife will be unpacked a little deeper, but for this week, it's simply the idea that all of us, the entire body, are to be mutually submitted to each other.
In my effort to find another way to phrase it, I went straight to the thesaurus. There, among synonyms were several that I can't picture God having in mind (i.e. passive, backdown, bowing, cringing, docility) were a few that I thought were a little more palatable. Here are my favorites ranked in order:
After picking my favorites, I decided to look them all up in the dictionary and was disappointed by their definitions. This to me, was a reminder that the world looks at relationship much different that God intended us to.
When Paul opens up his letter to the Ephesians, he clearly addresses "the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus." Clearly he is addressing a group of people who believe in the risen Christ and are doing their best to follow Him. He encourages them to "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" The Greek word "submitting" in this context does not refer to being under the absolute control of another but, in this context, to voluntarily placing oneself under the authority of another. At 5:21, Paul sums up how living a life filled by the spirit manifests itself in community and then he transitions into the next section on how a community of believers should relate to one another.
It seems that most of us, especially women, come to a screeching halt when we hear the word submission because we start to feel the oppressive force of "the man" above us. I am convicted by this beautiful and often overlooked description of how to love one another in a Christ-like way.
In chapter 5, Paul begins by exhorting the Ephesians to be "imitators of God." I believe he means to love in an unearthly way that is beyond our human capacity. Here is the Suzie Standard Version of how Paul is describing relationships that are marked by love that is an extension of the way God loved us with first:
1. Imitate God. Follow the Rabbi. Get caught up in the dust of His feet.
2. Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us (who is doing the submitting now?)
3. Be sexually pure.
4. If you have to justify your speach with "just kidding" a lot, you should probably rethink your communication skills.
5. Say thank you a lot.
6. Don't compare yourself to each other, it only leads to sinful thoughts and actions.
7. Speak the truth in love.
8. Now that you walk in light, make sure you distinctly stand out from darkness. Be in the world but not of the world.
9. Try to do and say things that you know will please God.
10. Confess your sin out of secrecy because it's the only way it can be overcome.
11. Watch how you walk - Do you display wisdom of a follower of Christ?
12. Don't let your energy, vitality and drunkenness come from things of this world but of the Holy Spirit that bears much fruit.
13. Speak to each other with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Speak God's word.
14. Say thank you a lot.