I can find amusement in some of the oddest places. One of the fun things about being in front of a congregation is watching them during the service. I get to see all kinds of things from you all that make me laugh, almost right out loud at times. Like at weddings when I speak from Ephesians chapter five. You know the “wives submit to your husbands . . .” thing. Some of the looks you ladies give, and the elbow jabbing from the men, too funny. But that’s because we don’t know what submission to God looks like in everyday life.
Paul starts with the wives (personally I think he started with the women because he knew they would listen better than the men) but then tells the husbands to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church. How was that? He submitted himself to serve our needs ahead of his own. One author put it this way; in following Christ’s example, husbands and wives, we are to spend our lives for the wellbeing of our spouse at any cost to ourselves.
This truth actually goes even farther; this passage begins by telling us all to submit to one another as a way of honouring God (vs. 21). Husbands and wives are the illustration that Paul uses to make his point. What he is telling us is that submission to God is expressed by submission to others. We like to think that if we go to church, and give our offering, and don’t lie or cheat or steal etc. we are submitting to God. Reality is that our level of submission to God is measured by how we submit to the people around us.
Now I can hear all sorts of resistance this; “But you don’t know what this person in my life is like,” and “if I don’t stand up for my rights I will get walked all over.” If you study the life of Jesus, I don’t think you can ever say that of him. Even about his death he said that no one can take his life from him, but that he chose to lay it down, again, in submission to the Father, expressed as service to us. As a result the Son brought honour to the Father and the Father honoured the Son. We have the same opportunity, if we will choose to serve others in submission to God.