Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Ephesians 5:21 "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ"

We are talking about the idea of submitting to one another in the church.

One of my sons recently enlisted in the Air Force. When a person enters the military he surrenders his own personal rights, his own will, and his personal self-interest for the good of his comrades and for the bigger cause, his country. He intentionally accepts authority over himself for the welfare of the whole, the greater good. So he is no longer free to come and go as he pleases. He cannot take vacations whenever he wants to. He has submitted himself to authority and must request permission to do things he wants to do. It is possible that he may even have to put his own life in danger for the good of his comrades. Imagine a military establishment where a person could join up and choose whatever rank he wants. The attitude Paul is looking for would mean that you would enlist and then choose a low rank, putting the good of others before your own good.

How about another illustration, this time from the sports world? When I was in college we had a decent basketball team, not a great one. We did have an excellent shooting guard. He was one of the best players in the league. The problem was that he didn’t seem to know how to pass the ball. It was his senior year and he was closing in on a number of school scoring records. If another player passed the ball to him it was like throwing the ball into a black hole. It was never going to come out again! He launched shots from all over the court but he made less than half of them. Our team would have been better and would have won more games if he had learned to surrender his own interest in scoring records and submit his skills to the betterment of the team as a whole. He didn’t know what it was to submit his own desires to the team and give precedence to others.

Worldly societies don’t change. They still recognize and value rank and order. There are still certain proprieties and bits of etiquette that the world requires. In spite of the fact that these worldly orders exist they cannot be allowed to exist inside the church. Those Christians who hold high status in the world are included in Paul’s teaching. They are to submit themselves to their brothers and sisters in the church.

For example, slavery existed almost everywhere in the Roman world. It certainly existed in Ephesus. Imagine a situation where both the master and the slave had become Christians. They would belong to the same fellowship of believers. Paul would tell them to be filled with the Holy Spirit and submit themselves to one another. They would willingly surrender their own wills and rights and then give preferment to the welfare of the other. The master could not act as if he owned his brother in Christ and the slave could not take advantage of his freedom in the church body to treat his master rudely. And what if the slave were to become an elder in the church? What would have to happen then? And how then would the master be required to treat his slave?


At 3:32 AM, Blogger Bluecollar said...

I love your steady emphasis...

"Paul would tell them to be filled with the Holy Spirit and submit themselves to one another."

At 4:38 AM, Blogger donsands said...

Great illustrations. And some excellent thoughts to ponder about slavery.

Paul did say, "Let every man abide in the same calling where he was called.
Were you called a slave [doulos]? don't worry about it: but if you can become free, use it rather.
For he that is called in the Lord, being a slave, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's slave." 1 Cor. 7:20-22

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Doulos Christou said...

Shilow, Great questions!

"...And how then would the master be required to treat his slave?

While a different circumstance, how about Paul's counsel to Philemon regarding his former slave Onesimus: " longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother" (Phil 16).

It seems to me that this concept of mutual submission out of love is very difficult to seek practically in many of today's local assemblies - the structure and program emphasis pushes heavily against it! (You may hear more from me in Part 10 coming soon over at NPB4S.) :)

You've been a great example of this principal in action for me (actually, I just love to point out that I'm still younger than you!).


At 7:01 AM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Thanks again, guys. I appreciate your input and encouragement.

Doulos, I have good news for you! You will ALWAYS be younger than I!


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