Posts Tagged ‘mutual submission’

Sermon 02-03-19: “Submit to One Another”

February 10, 2019

The Christ-like love that Paul asks of Christian husbands and wives is the same kind of love that Jesus asks of all of us. What does this love look like? Why is it so difficult to live out? Is there any hope for us? Yes! But only because our faith is in the One whose love never fails.

I preached this sermon at Cannon United Methodist Church on February 3, 2019. 

Sermon Text: Ephesians 5:21-33

Although, technically, today’s scripture begins at verse 21, you’ll notice that verse 21 is the tail-end of a sentence that starts at verse 18. So let me begin at the beginning of the sentence. [Read scripture.]

Most of you don’t know me very well yet. For example, most of you don’t know that back in 2001, my son Townshend was born on the living room floor of our house in Tucker, delivered by a couple of paramedics, while six or seven of Tucker’s Bravest looked on—from as far away as they could possibly be! They were hugging the opposite wall! They wanted nothing to do with delivering a baby! When the paramedics arrived, Lisa asked if she could have an epidural. “No,” they said, “it’s way too late for that!”

So this is what happened. Or so I am told…

You see, I wasn’t actually there when Townshend was born! I was down in Bradenton, Florida, near Tampa… What was I doing? Collecting my trophy for “husband of the year,” obviously! 

Hardly! I was there working on an engineering project at a Tropicana plant. I was there because I couldn’t say “no” when the project manager begged me to go—“just for one night,” he said, “You’ll be right back home in time for your baby to be born.” So, like an idiot, I went, even though it was close to Lisa’s due date and, well… naturally that’s when my first son was born.

My point in sharing this story is to suggest that I am not going to win any “Husband of the Year” awards; I am not well-qualified to lecture or preach to any of y’all about how to be a perfect spouse or how to have a perfect marriage—to say the least! I have often been a miserable failure at marriage—and maybe you have, too. If so, I hope, like me, you’ll find encouragement as the apostle Paul brings the gospel of Jesus Christ to bear on the institution of marriage. And I hope you’ll also see that the Paul’s words are about much more than just marriage. Today’s scripture is for everyone.

For example, verse 21 isn’t even directed to wives and husbands; it’s directed to literally everyone who is a Christian: “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” What does Christian submission look like? How about this: 

[Jesus said,] And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.[1]

Or how about this, also from Jesus:

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.[2]

Or this:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.[3]

Or this, from Paul:

[Love] is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.[4]

Or this:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves[5]

When Paul talks about submission, he’s referring to the same kind of self-sacrificial love that Jesus and the rest of the Bible demand of us elsewhere.

I hope that’s clear enough… 

Next, in verse 22, he asks wives to love their husbands in this exact same way. In fact, in Greek, the word “submit” doesn’t even appear in this verse: Verses 21 and 22 literally read as part of the same sentence, as follows: “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives, to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Do you see? The submission that Paul asks of wives in verse 22 is literally the same submission he asks of all Christians in verse 21. Read the rest of this entry »