Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Submission

The Pastor’s Perspective
First Published: July 25, 2006

Well, we have come to the end of July, and we are only scant days away from the return of school, and the resumption of a busy post-summer schedule. Many of you will be squeezing in one last summer get-away, while others are concentrating on getting ready for the semester ahead. Whatever the case is and whatever our occupations, let us do all we do with a strong devotion to our gracious God and a grateful dependence on our Lord Jesus Christ.

This coming Lord’s Day, we are beginning a new section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This is going to be something of a mini-series, and it may take us a little why to find our way out of Ephesians 5:21-6:9. You will immediately realize that this passage deals with our household relationships from a Christian perspective. If we are God’s new community, then what should our family life look like. How are we to be different from the world? Paul tells us here. He deals with husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and servants – the sphere of the household in biblical and Mediterranean culture. The timeliness of this for us is obvious. Our culture can’t even seem to define marriage! Much less agree upon the dynamics of husband-wife marital roles and the discipline of children.

In preparation for the series, we are going to revisit Ephesians 5:21 this coming Sunday morning. This verse contains the last of the five participles (Hupotassómenoi – subjecting yourselves) that Paul used to describe what a Christian who is being filled with the Spirit looks like. It also provides his segue into the discussion of husbands and wives mutual obligations and roles, as well as those of parents and children, and masters and servants. Remember how the verse goes? – “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” We said, very quickly just at the end of the sermon, that this means that Paul expects Spirit-filled Christians (and that’s all of us, not just some special few) to manifest a self-denying, mutual submission for the purpose of mutual edification, out of reverence for Christ.

Calvin puts it like this: “God has so bound us to each other, that no man ought to avoid subjection. And where love reigns, there is a mutual servitude. I do not except even kings and governors, for they rule that they may serve. Therefore it is very right that he should exhort all to be subject to each other. But as nothing is more contrary to the human spirit than to submit to others, he recalls us to the fear of Christ, who alone can tame our fierceness, that we may not refuse the yoke, and subdue our pride, that we may not be ashamed of serving our neighbors.”

This mutual subjection, or mutual servitude, or mutual submission, is to characterize all the role relationships in God’s new community. Thus, those who rule, rule in love for the sake of service. Those who are led, follow in respect for the sake of service.

This idea is so dramatically important, so counter-cultural, that we need to unpack it some. And we will, Lord willing, on Sunday morning. Read ahead. Pray ahead. Be here, with hearts ready to be challenged by God’s Word.

Do not miss Derek’s entry in the weblog (Re: Spurgeon on Audubon, here’s the link - http://fpcj.blogspot.com/2006/07/obsessed-by-one-thing-jesus.html). Let me slightly paraphrase and apply part of the quote to us all: “We need to muster a band of [Christians] who live only for Christ, and desire nothing but opportunities for promoting His glory ... for spreading His truth ... for winning by power those whom Jesus has redeemed by His precious blood. [People] of one idea . . . .”

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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