Monday, August 31, 2015
Submit for Jesus’ Sake (A sermon based on Ephesians 5:21-31)
"Submit? That doesn't sound like fun. Do I have to?" No. We don't have to submit, not to another person, nor to God. We don't have to submit to God to go to heaven because Jesus perfectly submitted to the Father's will and to the Father's plan of salvation for us. But now we want to submit to God to express our thanks to him. And out of reverence to Christ for all he's done for us we willingly, even joyfully, submit to one another. Read or listen to (download) this sermon based on Ephesians 5:21-31 and be encouraged to gladly...
Submit for Jesus' Sake
A sermon based on Ephesians 5:21-31
Sunday, August 30, 2015 – Pentecost 14B
I was waiting to board the plane, sitting at the gate, when the friendly guy next to me struck up a conversation. I'm not quite sure how the conversation got there, but he started talking about the roles of men and women.
"I'm not saying, 'The woman's place is in the home,'" he told me, "But I do think that God made men and women differently. And when we pretend that those differences don't exist, we mess everything up. Women don't get the respect they deserve. We don't protect them and defend them. We don't care for them the way we ought. When they want to be one of the guys, we treat them like one of the guys. And on the flip side, women don't give us men the respect they're supposed to give."
Now, at first, I thought this guy really understood the distinct roles that God has given to men and women. I thought he had a great grasp. But then he added, "We mess it all up when we don't submit to allah's will for our lives."
Did you know that Islam means "submission" and that Muslim means, "One who submits"? Did you know that Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States and that thousands of women of European descent are willing donning the hijab—that piece of clothing that covers a woman's head and neck—as they willingly submit to their Muslim husbands and to allah.
Why do they do it? Because Islam teaches that unless you submit—women to your husbands, and everyone to allah—then you have no chance of ever going to heaven. They may sort of get the roles of men and women right, but they totally distort the reason why anyone would willingly submit to another person or why anyone would submit to God.
So this morning as we take a look at the roles of men and women, we'll see how these God-given roles are not a burden, but a blessing. We see how our relationship with God affects our relationships with others. We see how it's really a joy to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. We gladly submit, not because we have to or else, but because we want to thank Jesus for submitting for us. Listen now to God's instruction through Paul in Ephesians 5:21-31…
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
I. Submitting in Thanks to Jesus (23,25-27,30)
Wives, submit to your husbands…in everything?! Husbands, love your wives in the same way Christ loved the church?… give yourself up for her?! That's easier said than done. It's not always going to be easy to submit to one another. It's not always going to be easy to show respect to one another or to be loving toward each other. Why not? Because of sin.
Because of sin, we are all deep down pretty selfish. We look to serve ourselves, not others and to get what's in our best interest, not someone else's. We listen to that voice that says, "Submission? Sacrifice? Respect? No thanks! That's not for me! I'm going to stand up for myself, get what I'm entitled to, push hard and manipulate others if I have to to get my own way."
For that reason, women, there are times that you fail to submit to the men in your lives, when you fail to show respect. Or, just as bad, when you do submit or show respect, you do so in order to get something out of him or with an attitude of "Well, I guess I have to since I'm the woman." You fail to submit as God wants you to, and in doing so, you fail to submit to God.
Because of sin, men, there are times that you fail to be loving to the women in your lives. Or, just as bad, when you do act loving, it's to get something you want from her. You look to have your needs met before hers. You fail to be loving, and in doing so, you fail to love God.
For saying, "I'll submit to you after you submit to me," and for saying, "I'll be loving to you once you're loving to me," for all the sins we've committed, for all the sins we will commit, we deserve hell. That's the cold, hard truth. We don't deserve to have any loving relationships, least of all a loving relationship with God for refusing to submit to him and his will.
But of course you know that you do have a relationship with God—not because of how loving you've been to him or because of how well you've submitted to him, but because of how loving he's been to you and how submissive he's been for you. Because of what he did for you, you won't go to the hell that you deserve. Listen again to what he did…
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
In most of the relationships we have, at least the ones we volunteer, there's a certain attraction. There's a reason you married the spouse you did. You were attracted to your husband or wife. There's a reason you have the friends you choose. You enjoy their company.
But friends, Jesus loved us when we were unlovable. When we were corrupt sinners refusing to submit to God, looking to no one's interests but our own, he gave himself up for us. He submitted to the Father's will and lived a perfect life without any sin. He submitted to the Father's plan and died on the cross, taking our sins on himself, suffering the hell that we deserve.
And in that submissive act of dying on the cross, he made us sinless and holy and clean, without stain or wrinkle. By the washing waters of Baptism, he's washed us of our sin. By the Gospel message he leads us to believe, he takes away every stain, every wrinkle, every blemish and makes us holy, blameless, and acceptable to God. And having made us clean, he's made us his own…
Paul quotes Genesis 2, when he writes, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." And he continues in verse 32, beyond our text, to apply this verse to the relationship we have with Christ: "This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church." Just as husband and wife unite to become one flesh, Christ has become one with us, his church. He has married himself to you, promises to forgive you, to strengthen you and one day soon, take you to the eternal honeymoon of heaven.
What an awesome relationship we have with Jesus! We get his love in spite of our sins. We get forgiveness, being made spotless and clean. We get heaven itself when we deserve hell. And we don't have to do a thing for it! We don't have to submit to God perfectly, or love him perfectly, because Jesus did those things perfectly for us and gave us his perfection.
But now, with a perfect relationship with Jesus, entirely by his effort and entirely at his expense, we can't help but thank him and let our gratitude motivate us to strive with all our hearts to submit to him and do what's pleasing to him. We don't submit "or else" like the Muslims do. But gratitude for all he's done for us compels us to follow Christ's example, and submit like Jesus did, to "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ…"
II. Submitting Like Jesus (21-25,28-29,31)
Now because of our natural inclination to be more concerned with "What my spouse, my child, my coworker should be doing" rather than "what I should be doing," In a literary way, Paul pulls each individual aside, saying "Here's your role. You worry about this," first to women, then to men.
Women, listen to the specific ways in which you can thank Jesus for the relationship you have with him… 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything… the wife must respect her husband.
Women, it won't always be easy to submit to men (and by the way, the Greek could be translated "women," not just "wives," and "men," not just "husbands," making this application broader than just for married people). It won't always be easy to fall in line with their leadership, to give up what you know is best in order to do what they think is best. But women, in thanksgiving to God, submit. What will it matter 100 years from now if you give up your rights? It won't! You've got a place reserved for you in heaven! Forgive the men in your lives for their less than perfect leadership with the same forgiveness that Christ gave you and submit to them anyway.
Now, don't get me wrong, ladies. Submission does not mean that you become slaves. In fact, submission doesn't deal with positions of superiority or inferiority. It deals with order. Think of it this way: The forty-year old truck driver submits to the fourteen year old crossing guard when he tells him to stop the vehicle. He submits, not because he is weaker, less intelligent, or inferior in any way. But, for good order, for the good of drivers and pedestrians alike, he submits.
Women, in Christ you can do the same. You can not only submit and yield your right of way, but you can do it with the right attitude—with a willful, even joyful submission. You can show respect, even when he's being a bum. You can submit to your men as if submitting to Jesus himself, because, well, you really are. Submit to them, not because you have to, but because you want to out of love for your Savior as your act of worship to him. And when you do, ladies, you'll make the job of loving you much easier for the men in your life…
Now men, the ladies certainly have a big job of submitting to us in everything, don't they? But God has a word for us too. He tells us how we can show him our gratitude for the full and free forgiveness and the heaven he's given to us. And as men, our job may be even more difficult. Paul says, 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Men, we're given a big task, to love the women in our lives with the same selfless love that Jesus has shown to each of us. And it won't always be easy, especially when they're not showing respect. But remember how Christ loved you selflessly even when you showed little respect to him and then love the women in your life in the same way. What will it matter 100 years from now if you give up your rights? It won't. You've got a place reserved in heaven! Forgive the women in your lives for their less than perfect submission and failure to show respect and love them with the same love that Christ gives you.
And how did Christ love you? How will you love women? With a self-sacrificial love. Christ gave up his glory to suffer hell for us. Christ gave us his life that we might live. Men, give up your rights to serve others in love. As leaders, don't base your decisions on what's in your best interest, but what's in their best interest. Sacrifice yourself for your women. And when you do, men, you'll make the job of submitting to you a whole lot easier for the women in your life.
Dear friends, today, through the Word of God you are reminded of the special relationship that Jesus has with you, not because you deserve it, not because of how you have submitted to him, but because of his perfect grace and love for you that led him to submit to the Father for your sake. Now, let his humble submission for you motivate you to submit to one another, showing love, showing respect, in thanksgiving to God.
Friends, it's my prayer that as you leave here today you would be so filled with the Holy Spirit, that you can't be full of yourselves. I pray that you will leave here with a renewed commitment to gladly and joyfully submit to God and, in thanks to him, joyfully submit to one another, not because you must or else, but because you want to in thanks to Jesus for the relationship you have with him. In his name, dear friends, amen.
Pastor Rob Guenther
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611
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