Sunday, November 30, 2008

Learning Love through Submission

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Eph. 5:31-33

The heart of the command to submit is to learn obedience & discover the nature of Christ. That is why Paul prefaces the teaching of specific forms of submission with a call for submissiveness in general (Eph 5:21).

Submission is defined as “a willingness to yield or surrender to somebody, or the act of doing so”. This takes its most evident manifestation in the willingness of the wife to yield her authority to her husband, but Paul points to another form also- the husband’s deeding over his desires to compassionately care for the wants & needs of his wife. The husband surrenders his own desire to take a nap after a long day to do the laundry so his beloved can rest instead. He yields to his wife’s desire to go to dinner instead of his desire to go the big game. He defends his wife against peril & danger with his own life when necessary. Paul assigns the husband the task of proactively leading in love.

The wife primarily yields to her husband in spirit & the husband primarily yields to his wife in action.

This is all really designed to mirror the mind of Christ to mankind.

1 John 4:10 states that we did not first love God, but God- in & through the Person of Jesus Christ- first loved us. Just like a truly righteous husband, Christ leads in love, by example, into perceiving the depths of real love. But it is only when we, like the truly righteous wife, are completely surrendered to His will that we are in the place to both perceive & receive His love.

Facing the cross, Jesus displayed both qualities. He was submitted to the Father as He said “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). And He was yielding in love to the needs of mankind as He also said to His Father “For their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19).

Husbands should keep their eyes on Christ, the author & perfecter of their faith, so as to pursue the goal of giving up their desires to serve their wife’s needs. Wives should take up the cross of humble submission with eyes set on the joy set before them- a closer walk with the One who learned obedience Himself- by humble submission.

Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.
Psalms 85:4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us!

The point is even Christ Himself learned obedience through swallowing His righteous indignation, submitting not only to His perfect & righteous Father, but also imperfect & unrighteous sinners, all for the sake of love. Following in His steps, we learn of Him. We model Christ to our spouses & thus teach the character of Christ by displaying His nature for all to see.

Ephesians 5 makes clear that submission has, as its end goal, the purpose of all being made into the likeness of Christ. It is easy to get caught up arguing the minutiae of the individual commands therein, but the goal should be clearly evident- it is just another way for us to follow in His steps, picturing the nature of Christ to our souls, our mates, & others as well.

1 comment:

MrsEvenSo... said...

Excellent post Steve.
When spouses learn to submit to each other in this way, growth in Christ and as a couple is imminent.