In Ephesians chapter 5, Paul gives us a “hinge verse” – a comment which turns the flow of his letter in another direction. Verse 21 states that we are to be “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”.
Let’s be honest – this is hard if not impossible to do. Paul is not calling for us to dismantle all authority structures, but he is calling for a very distinct way of life for those who follow Jesus. So distinct, this can’t be done without the Holy Spirit working in our lives as this phrase is part of a long sentence on what it means to be filled with the Spirit.
Submitting to one another reminds me of coaching football with 12 year old boys. As the coach, I (along with the other coaches) am king and everyone must submit to our authority. But if the team is going to function properly, there must be individual submission to each other. The best teams give up their individual rights for the sake of the team. A good player who is selfish in his play is actually a detrament to the overall success of the team.
A properly functioning football team is better than the collective gifts of the individuals. The same is true for the church. God’s will for the church is that we let go of our individual desires in order to work for those around us to the glory of the Father. And this can be very practical – cooking meals, making a phone call to a neighbor who is sick, asking if someone needs help – all ways in which we submit ourselves “to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Look for the needs of others. Take action to fulfill those needs to the glory of God. In the process, remember the sacrifice Christ has made on behalf of his people. Act out of response to his submission the Father’s will.
My God send his Spirit to enable us submit our lives to each other.