Mutual Submission



Scripture:

Eph. 5:21   Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Eph. 5:22   Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. 24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
Eph. 5:25   Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27 so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33 Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

Observation:

Verse 21 connects the concepts about which Paul has been writing. In the life of the church there is an expectation of a Spirit-filled life. This life comes to expression in corporate worship, in the singing of songs of praise, through thanksgiving to God, and finally in mutual submission. This mutual submission is to be visible within the body of Christ. Every rank in the church, whether an overseer or a member of the laity should understand that their role is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, the great servant leader. The cosmic mystery of the church is that she does not follow the patterns of the world, but rather, finds leaders who believe their role is in service to others. 

Members of the church are to call one another to piety, and in this we are to find mutual accountability. Submission is assuming a posture of humility for the sake of the Lord. It is in our mutual submission that the glory of God is revealed, as we fulfill our duties to one another. 

When love reigns, the result is mutual service, and God is glorified. This is the what is to be revealed in the church, and in the family. Submission is always to be seen in relation to the edification of the church and to Christlikeness in the lives of God’s followers. So, whether in the church, or in the family, mutual submission is the sign of a spirit-filled life that leads to the growth in Christlikeness of all the members. 

Application

The Lenten journey will always take us to a place of humility and submission. Far too often this text is used beginning from verse 22, without connecting the entirety of Paul’s message. This is about the life of the church and the signs of a Spirit-filled community of God. This instruction is given to a community of believers who are seeking to know Christ at a more intimate level. Therefore, we should be careful to never use this scripture out of context. It is about a community of faith in which all are submitting to one another for the sake of spiritual growth and development. 

Some of the most successful groups in helping people grow spiritually and leave behind a life of sin are found in the recovery programs. The reason is because they require accountability. If we are to grow spiritually, we need to be accountable to one another for that growth. This was the secret of John Wesley’s classes and bands. They were not Bible Study groups where one person listened to someone present a lesson, but they were times when people gathered together for mutual submission and accountability. The questions they asked one another were serious and helped to search the deep recesses of hearts and lives. 

What would happen in the life of the church if we returned to this level of accountability? The spiritual growth and development would result in God being glorified. The plan is then that this glory and spirit-filled living and mutuality would spread to the home. The home is to be a microcosm of the church, a place where God is glorified in the relationships of love and mutuality found when a husband and wife are both followers of Christ. This is to be a glorious mystery and a reflection of the mutual love and submission found in the holy Trinity. In other words, the world should be in awe of the mystery seen in the church and in the Christian home. It should be like nothing on this earth and the mutual submission will lead to increasing Christlikeness among all members. 

Prayer:


Lord, please help me to live a life of mutual submission in all relationships. May you be reflected in and through me and those around me. Amen. 

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