“submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
There is nothing more unnatural or appalling to the mind of Man than to submit to another person. This is not compatible with the image of power and self-autonomy. By nature we want to be in control of our lives, and be self-sufficient in all of our ways. To take the yoke of another would mean to lose control, and would acknowledge that we are in need and are lacking in some way. This in fact is the greatest barrier which keeps many from Jesus Christ; submitting to His authority.
For the Christian though, our submission does not end with Christ. It overflows with joy to each other. This submission is most visible as we serve the body, which is the church. Denying ourselves and self-sacrificial living are marks of the Christian life. This can be seen when Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:3-5)
This mindset will come from a changed heart. A heart of stone that was replaced with a heart of flesh. A heart that has been transformed from loving self to loving Christ.
What is the greatest motivator and strongest influence of such a life? It is our reverence for Christ. We submit to one another because of who Jesus is, and what He has done. He displayed the ultimate form of submission on the cross, to appease the will of the Father, “Not my will, but yours, be done”. It is the love of Christ that compels us, because we know that apart from His divine power, we can do nothing.
We are partakers of the same Spirit, being transformed into the same image of Christ, from one degree of glory to another. As we submit to one another, we are displaying to each other and to the world the glory and surpassing worth of our risen Lord.
And here is the point: The people that are outside of the church are not going to see something different if we are living like the people outside of the church. I am convinced that apart from the hearing of the gospel, that our submission to others is what the world needs to see the most. It is the evidence of a changed life, pointing to the One who changed us.
We must meditate over what this means for our lives. Is submission a characteristic of our life? If not, then how can we become more Christ-like in submitting to one another?
Be encouraged, there is good news. There is only one who lived a life in perfect obedience, and that is Christ. This new way of living is only possible by the power of His Spirit working within us. I encourage to you make this your prayer, that your reverence for Christ would result in joyfully submitting to others, displaying this transformed life to the world, so that others would see His goodness, and that God would be most glorified.