Ephesians Day 27: Mutual Submission.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (5:21)
Ours is a culture that doesn’t do submission well or often because all the emphasis is on self, rights and entitlement. We don’t like the word submission. That’s because all the connotations are negative. We’ve let the world define ‘submission’ as an entirely negative act where we lose and someone else gains. We’ve forgotten the Biblical definition which is one of service and mutual consideration. We’ve misunderstood the Biblical mandate, which is universal, not hierarchical or reserved only for some. And we’ve lost sight of the Biblical model of submission, as exemplified by Jesus.
Let’s use Ephesians 5 to take back the original meaning of submission, which was not about being a doormat and letting people walk all over you, but about loving and serving others. It was about putting aside our selfishness and prioritising the needs and views of others. Biblical submission is entirely positive. It involves no surrender of our independence, identity or rights. It simply recognises that it’s not all about us, that considering needs of others is more important than our pride or status.
Notice how it says ‘submit to one another’? The biblical mandate isn’t one-way traffic, it’s not the same people always submitting to others, everyone should be submitting to everyone else. There’s no bias or privilege along racial, gender or social lines. It’s not women submitting to men, ethnic minorities submitting to the ethnic majority or the poor submitting to the rich. This is radically inclusive and equal. If everyone is submitting to everyone, then everyone benefits. How much better that than the world’s alternative where there is no submission, only selfishness.
And let’s regain sight of why we do this. We’re not called to submission just for the sake of it, but ‘out of reverence for Christ’. We submit to others for Him because he submitted to others for us. He submitted Himself to earthly rejection and torture and divine anger on the cross in order that we might be saved. When we remember all that He’s done for us, we should have no hesitation in showing that same servant-hearted love to others.
When we remember these Biblical truths, submission is no longer scary or unpleasant. When we’re secure in Jesus, we’re able to submit to others knowing that it makes us greater, not less. We’ll be following in His footsteps and each of us will be loving and helping the people around us. Contrary to our initial inclinations, we need a lot more submission, not less.
To take away: Is the word ‘submit/submission’ a stumbling block for you? Ask God for help in understanding why, and how to move past it. With the power of the Holy Spirit, don’t let previous misunderstandings or past experiences keep you from living in the fullness of God’s plan for you.
This is the 27th post in a 31-day walk through Ephesians. I’d love for you to join me in exploring this amazing book of the Bible for the rest of the month of May. Every day you’ll find a new post with fresh encouragement from God’s word. I hope this series blesses you, and if it does, please share it with others. Thank you.