Summary: Friends, a successful, joyous, life-long marriage truly is a miracle! And that is why we so need to live our lives together according to the design and plan our Great Architect has given us! As our marriages go, so does the rest of our relationships!
THE SUPREME MYSTERY – THE BODY OF CHRIST
ACT III: The Supreme Mystery In Action
5. BODY RELATIONSHIPS I (Eph. 5:21-33)
It’s been wisely said that “relationships are everything!” So, why is it that our relationships, whether they be with family, friends, co-workers, bosses or new acquaintances, are often so complex, inconsistent, stressful and incomplete? Why does it always seem like the people who are closest to us and mean the most to us are also the ones who frustrate us the most or with whom we seem to have the rockiest relationships?
Of all our relationships by far the most important is first, our relationship with Jesus, and second, our relationship with our family. Yet, we so often relegate our time with Jesus to an hour-and-a-half of half-hearted attention – IF that – each week. Then, we go back into the world and embrace the popular and terribly sad slogan: “There is NO such thing as a ’functional family’ today – if there ever was one!” We laugh and pat ourselves on the back with the reminder that ’hey, if my neighbor’s family is dysfunctional why shouldn’t mine be too.” That is, except for the moments when we find ourselves alone, shivering and hungry in the dark, cold closet of reality! We then try to warm and feed ourselves by focusing instead on the misery of others and the media images that make dysfunction seem so normal and even fun. Or, maybe we turn to alcohol, drugs, or ’virtual companions’ on the Internet, a magazine or movie. And we wonder what went wrong. . . We scratch our thinning heads and can’t understand why our circumstances have gone unchanged or grown increasingly worse.
Friends, the health and well-being of our families is absolutely dependent upon the health of our marriage – not just yesterday, but today, tomorrow and the next day.
As Bessie & Beulah once quipped: “All marriages are happy. It’s the living together afterward that caused all the trouble.”
Or, perhaps others of us can sympathize with Bill Cosby’s remark: “That married couples can live together day after day is a miracle the Vatican has overlooked.”
Friends, a successful, joyous, life-long marriage truly is a miracle! And that is why we so need to live our lives together according to the design and plan our Great Architect has given us!
As our marriages go, so does the rest of our relationships! The health of our marriages, in turn, are absolutely dependent upon our relationship with Jesus Christ!!!
THE PRINCIPLE OF GOD-HONORING SUBMISSION (vv. 21)
“. . . submitting to one another in the fear of God”
Don’t forget, this section is building upon the foundation that was set in 4:1-2 . . .
Therefore, it is essential to recognize that the preceding verses set the framework through which we are to understand vv. 21-6:9. When we walk wisely, in the fullness of the Spirit of God, then a natural fruit (or result) will be living out this principle of submission set forth in this text.
We do this: in the fear of God. We are to live lives of Godly submission, not to earn a good reputation, to stay “inside the circle,” or even for fear of the human being we are submitting to (no matter how scary our spouses, children, boss and/or underlings may sometimes be). Rather, it is ultimately and always to be in our reverent fear of God!
Let us, now, consider the meaning of the term “submission” in this text. The Greek term Paul uses indicates clearly being under another’s authority. However, it does NOT have the connotation of a forced submission, but rather of a voluntary submission to a proper authority.
One final note. As you read and consider these verses, notice that Paul’s emphasis is not on the ones in submission, but on the responsibility of those who are in authority! No matter what roles or positions we hold, no matter who we are, Christ the Holy One and God our Judge is our ultimate authority and example. Sacrificially loving and serving others is far more important than the position of authority we may hold. It is not our authority and position that is most important, but what we do and don’t do with it.
THE PRINCIPLE APPLIED IN MARRIAGE (VV. 22-33)
Specific Background: Remember, at that time, by both tradition and law men had all of the rights and privileges, and women were given all of the duties. Not exactly a fair division! Further, wives were the properties of their husbands, the same way they were previously the property of their fathers and the same way a man’s children, slaves, livestock and possessions were his property.
It is in this light and to this reality that Paul now writes. Specifically, he addresses how a Christian wife and a Christian husband are to relate to one another. Despite what many people today assume, we shall see that Paul’s words - taken in context - are extremely liberating and honoring to women and demanding of men!