LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple Podcast)
Friday, April 1, 2022
There is NOTHING about this devotional today that relates to Aprils Fool’s Day.
Life is filled with forced subjection. We’ve all had jobs that we did on the outside while we dreamed of something else on the inside. We spend long hours fulfilling a job description while our hearts burst with boredom and long for liberty. I remember one such job I had like that prior to being called into the ministry. It was shortly after college when I was confused about the direction of my life. I held two jobs. I drove school bus and served as a police officer in a little North Dakota town. The city had been given a six-month grant to hire a daytime policeman. I needed money, so I applied. I was the only applicant. I wore a uniform, was issued a gun, and drove a squad car. I was directly responsible to the mayor of the town.
One day I issued a parking ticket to a farmer who had come into town in the late afternoon and parked his truck backwards on the street. He was blocking a portion of the driving lane, facing the wrong direction, and taking up several spaces. The next day the mayor called me into his office and tore up the ticket in front of me. I was told that certain people in town do not get tickets. I asked him for a list of those people, and he refused, saying only that I shouldn’t write tickets anymore to avoid any possible problems. I was angry. I submitted on the outside and played the part of a police officer with no authority, but on the inside, I just wanted those six months to be over.
Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.“
When we look at the Roman culture of the first century, when Paul wrote the above command, we see relationships between men and women that involved forced subjection. Women were the servants of men, even as wives. It was the way society was managed. That’s what makes the next section of Ephesians so interesting to study. Paul tells everyone to be subject to each other, and then follows up with specific instructions to wives to submit to their husbands. In a culture of forced subjection of women to men, why does he tell the Christian women to submit to their husbands? The reason, I think, is the difference between forced subjection and voluntary submission. Paul wanted the Christians to model something more than external conformity. He wanted the heart to be involved also.
None of us is the final authority on anything. None of us is the ultimate boss. Within the context of the family of God – the church – we are all to be subject to one another out of reverence for the ultimate boss – the Head – Jesus Christ. God has established and ordained levels of earthly authority in the church and in families, but each of those leaders is to model the same kind of authority that Jesus did. He first modeled it at age 12, when he was found by his parents in the temple, teaching the elders. After they expressed their fears and emotions and encouraged His obedience, Jesus voluntarily subjected himself to their authority. Luke 2:51 says, ”Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”
The Greek word translated “obedient” in this verse is the same word “submit” Paul uses in Ephesians 5:21. It cannot mean to relinquish authority and equality. It does mean the voluntary subjection of one’s authority to another as a result of our love for God. Jesus made himself subject to his parents because he revered God’s authority which had established the family order. For the purpose of fulfilling God’s will, Jesus eventually subjected His authority to the Roman government, and died at their hands as a sacrifice for our sins. He could have taken authority over that entire situation and won an external battle, but His heart voluntarily submitted out of reverence for the Father.
We will only experience true freedom when we understand that submission comes from the inside, not the outside. It is not forced, it is voluntary – motivated by our love for the one who subjected Himself to our sin so that we could be free from it. To use the words of Jill Briscoe from her message entitled “Hilarious Hupotasso,” (that’s the Greek word for “submit”) “Sit down on the inside as well as the outside. You’ve been sitting down on the outside because you had no choice. Now we give you this voluntary choice, this act of will rather than this legal requirement. Paul was after a heart attitude, a spirit of humility by choice, not coercion. Paul is pro-choice: the choice to lay down our lives for our brothers, sisters, husbands, and children, because we have laid it down for Christ.”
How liberating it is to serve one another in love because the heart of Jesus Christ our Lord fills our heart and motivates such a choice. Suddenly life has purpose and meaning again.