Summary: Having a healthy marriage
Last week we talked about a problem we are facing in America: Marriage is being undermined by a force of enemies coming against it. I hope in the wake of the Senate discussions that you have taken the time to call your Michigan senators and let them know how you feel about the definition of marriage as between one man and woman.
Marriages need help! My marriage needs help! And so does yours! Now, there are some here today who can say “I need help getting married!” - and this sermon will not directly relate to you. But I’m sure that each of us, whether married or single, faces many opportunities to come alongside of others who are married and offer encouragement and counsel. Our marriages need help. And fortunately we have been given help by the one who instituted marriage.
We come this morning to God’s word, to seek his instructions. Join me as we look in the book of Ephesians. As Paul writes to this church, the Christians at Ephesus, he calls them in 4:1 - “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” In 4:17 he tells them “you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. So, instead of hard hearts that ignore God and his teachings, we are called in 5:1 to “Be imitators of God.” It is God’s foundation that we need to build our marriages upon. In 5:1-16 we see what we are not to do if we want to imitate God. Then in 5:18 we are reminded that if we want to imitate God and follow his calling on our lives, we must “be filled with the Spirit.” He then goes on to talk about what Spirit-filled godly relationships will be like. He says in 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Godly, spirit-filled relationships are those where there is submission to one another. Now “Submission” is one of those “politically incorrect” terms that instantly cause the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up. But while it may evoke all kinds of negative images, we have to admit this morning that it is God’s plan for our relationships. So, if we are going to be imitators of God and live up to the calling he gives us, we better understand this and choose to obey.
The idea of submission is “surrendering to a decision or action of another.” It really is a military term that refers to arranging troops under the command of a leader. It is a voluntary act of cooperation. Many times we get the idea that submission is just a man’s way of telling a woman that he is better than her. But that is not the scriptural idea. Rather it is the idea of filling a role of cooperation.
We find the same term in Luke 2:51 where Jesus left his parents and was in the temple. They cam and found him, and verse 51 tells us “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” Jesus was obedient to his parents, not because they were better than he, but because they were the ones the father had placed in a place of authority over Jesus. They filled that role.