Submit To One Another
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
Submission is not a popular concept in our “me first” culture. But we all have to submit to someone: students submit to teachers, who submit to administrators, who then submit to the superintendent, who submits to the school board. Athletes must submit to their coaches and trainers. Children submit to their parents. Workers submit to their employers. We all do this as a matter of course. Submission means to yield to the power or authority of another, and we all are under the authority of someone while also holding authority over someone else.
When confronted with the idea of submission, many people bristle. But those who push back against it hardest likely understand it least. True submission is not simply behavior; it begins in the mind and in the will. While a more powerful person can force a less powerful person to perform a task, he or she cannot compel another to surrender mentally. Every parent knows this. We can force our children to clean their rooms, but we cannot coerce them to want to clean their rooms. Such yielding of the will can only be offered freely, never compelled.
Some people like to treat the Bible as a book of individual parts for them to pick and choose from. However, scripture is intended to be read and understood and applied as a whole, not as a collection of statements that can be teased out for our own purposes. Those who wield Ephesians 5:22 as a show of force betray their ignorance. “See,” they say, “wives should submit to their husbands. The Bible says so.” But Paul isn’t finished. He says to men, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Love sacrificially. Give yourself, your own desires and wants, up for her benefit. People cannot be forced to love any more than they can be forced to submit. Both are a choice, and both are possible for us self-serving humans only because of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus, who submitted to God and gave himself up for us.
Paul encourages the Christians in Ephesus to submit to one another out of reverence for the Christ they all believe in and serve. Then he asks wives to respect their husbands and husbands to love their wives. Is this because the Ephesian wives aren’t respecting their husbands and the husbands aren’t loving their wives? Doubtful. Paul is comparing the relationship between husbands and wives to the relationship between Jesus and the church. And he reminds these Christians that because Jesus is their Lord, they can yield to one another as they yield to Jesus because of love. If only we could remember a certain letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians in which he said, “Love is not self-seeking; it does not insist on its own way.” Love yields. Love submits, freely and willingly. The only way for the community of faith to flourish is for us to acknowledge that it’s not about us: it’s about Jesus. So we submit, we yield, first to Jesus Christ and then to one another.
What will the world think of a community in which people love, serve, and submit to one another out of love for the One who modeled such a life? Wouldn’t it be exciting to find out?
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (Children’s worship and nursery care provided) followed by Discovery Hour classes for preschoolers through adults.