Faithlife Sermons

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How do you view marriage?
That is not an idle issue.
For those married decades, it becomes a foundation of life, which seems natural.
For a couple standing at an altar to say vows, the stars in their eyes glimmer and may prevent them from seeing much reality.
Others, even though they exchanged rings and said their “I do’s” see the rings as changes of bondage.
You cannot talk of life without talking of marriage.
It is the prevalent state of most people.
It was given by God for the good of man.
And yet, man’s desires have twisted much of it into something else.
Paul is not shy about talking about human relationships, but for a different reason.
He sees the Christian’s relationships with others as part of something larger.
As we shall see, in this lesson, Paul teaches that you can best see a Christian’s relation to Christ through the lens of his relations in life.
This includes how parents raise their children and how slaves reacted to masters.
But the most personal relationship of all is the one Christ had with his church, the relationship of marriage.
What does a Christian marriage reflect?
The Big Picture
Today’s lesson begins with a curiously broken spot that needs reconnecting to help us make sense of it.
“submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
(Ephesians 5:21, ESV)
This hanging verse belongs to what comes after but is part of something already said.
That whole thought comprises what we will study today.
To get the flow, go back a few steps to verse 18.
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18, ESV)
Paul contacts the cultural influence with that of the Spirit’s influence.
A person and a church filled with the Spirit exhibit several things.
It determined how they would worship and praise God.
It also expressed itself in gratitude, where it sees God’s hand in all things and gives thanks for them.
But the final is in relationships.
And our first verse today is what completes the triad.
So Paul says, “submitting to one another.”
This is a global use for the church, not an individual use for individuals, as we will see further in this passage.
But what is submission?
First, it is not many things people assume it to be.
It is not subjection where someone is made to comply.
Neither is it subordination where one person has less value than another.
And finally, it is not the ugly word of “subjugation.”
Someone under subjugation is so dominated as to be enslaved.
Tragically, the misunderstanding causes many problems in society.
Then what is this word?
For Paul, it is a positive word that encompasses all Christians.
It first marched onto the tarmac, where soldiers assembled in rank order.
The picture tells us the concept.
It is not about status but order.
There has to be someone in front and someone behind them for there to be order.
Anything else is chaos.
While subjection, subordination, and subjugation describe force submission volunteers.
It explains how Christ came to earth and how Christians are to behave in general.
It is taking your place for all to prosper.
It is an “us” experience instead of a “we” one.
I find this in some of the most mundane places.
One is at a dinner table.
Order is required.
When we have our family in our house, we all comprise 10 people.
The food is put out, the blessing offered, and then it is time to eat.
But who goes first?
The host or hostess stands back while others fill their plates and they go at the end.
Does that make them unworthy or second-class?
No, it simply means this is the best way for a family to function.
Each gives of himself and receives what he needs in return.
Imagine what happens if there is no one to wait for another.
It would look like a pigpen at feeding time.
The food poured out, and all would fight each other for the food.
Some would eat, and some would not.
It is only through submission that all get their needs met.
It is not easy.
Jesus had to admonish even his disciples to put aside their self-centeredness.
In Matthew 20, Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem when James and John have a hushed conversation with Jesus.
They have a request, but “let’s keep it between us” seems to be the sense.
They want to be in positions of power in God’s kingdom.
They want to bark orders and demand compliance.
In Luke, they want to teach the ungrateful Samaritans a lesson with thunderbolts to crush their cities.
They loved position and power.
But quiet conversations are spoken loudly enough for competitors to hear.
The other disciples learned of it and were irate.
It is apparent from the context that each had entertained the same thoughts of power, prestige, and control.
So Jesus has a Dutch Uncle’s talk with them.
“But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
It shall not be so among you.
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,” (Matthew 20:25–27, ESV)
He said you want to be “over people.”
In his kingdom, the servant was master, and the master was a servant.
So as Paul lays out his section on the social dynamics of the day, he starts with the overarching principle.
When we give to others, we get what we need.
The aboriginal hunting weapon, the boomerang, gives this idea its concept.
When thrown, its curved shape creates a wing that causes it to return to the one who threw it.
We call it the boomerang effect.
In life, when we give up on ourselves, we get so much more in return.
When we truly listen, we find ourselves enriched.
When we teach the gospel to another, we find ourselves growing.
The more we give, the more we get.
That is the principle the Christian brings to life.
Give and let God give back.
This principle of submission affects the critical relationships in a Christian’s life.
It changes marriages, strengthens children, and helped slaves work with masters.
So, how does it work in marriage?
I am sure you have heard the passage we studied this morning dozens of times.
Is this a passage concerning…
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