Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bethany Bullet - August 29, 2012

We have almost finished our study of the letter to the Ephesians this summer.  This past Sunday we finished up chapter 5.

22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Wow, what a place to start.  But what does it mean to “submit?”

For many years now this word “submit” has conveyed only negative connotations.  Mostly because being submissive is the result of some negative force imposing its own will; that is not what is happening here.

The root of this word means “to rank people or things in order, under some specific pattern.”  It does NOT imply inferiority or lesser value, let alone superiority.  Perhaps subordinate would be a better, but not perfect translation. 

Perhaps a baseball analogy can help here.  My apologies to you if you are not a baseball fan, but I think you will still get my point. 

Take the case of the pitcher and the catcher, both are on the same side and have the same objective; both want to make their contribution to winning the game, to get the batter out and to retire the side.  But the things they do are quite different.

Usually it is the catcher who decides what pitch should be thrown.  The two have probably made a game plan, looked over the lineup card, looked at hitting charts and tendencies and have agreed on a course of action, but during the game it is the pitcher who submits to the will of the catcher.

That doesn’t mean he can’t shake off a pitch or that there might not be an occasional conference at the mound, but in general, the catcher calls the pitches.

Does that mean that the catcher is better than the pitcher?  Is the pitcher inferior because he submits to the catcher’s selection of pitches? Not at all!! In fact it is usually the pitcher who gets the glory.

They both recognize that each can’t be doing their own thing if they want to win the game.  Somebody has to decide whether a fastball or a change-up is more likely to strike Casey out.  If the catcher does not know what pitch is coming, there could be disaster.  It is a matter of assigned roles, a designated order of things. 

In baseball when things go perfectly between pitcher and catcher, who gets the credit? The pitcher! In Major League Baseball there have been only 23 perfect games. Granted there have been three thrown this year, the latest coming just a few weeks ago in Seattle, when Felix Hernandez faced just 27 batters and got them all out.  Who was the catcher that day? Anyone?  It was John Jaso (JAY-so). Who? Perhaps if it was a local story we might know. 

I have heard many pitchers when interviewed after a great outing give credit to their battery mate.  “You know, I just trusted in John, that he knew what he was doing and just threw what he called.  He called a great game today.” To be perfect, he had to submit.  Submission is not always a bad thing.

You know, Jesus has called us to be perfect.  At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, after Jesus describes the behavior of those who are to follow him ends the section with this phrase, “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48)

Be perfect!?!  What??  In baseball it is rare, but in life?  How are we to be perfect?  Just ask Major League Pitcher Armando Galarraga. It was June of 2010 and Galarraga was on fire.  He was one out away from a perfect game in Detroit.  An easy grounder to the right side, sent Galarraga to cover first.  But as he steps on the bag, the umpire called safe, upon further review the runner should have been called out.  Galarraga did everything right but was not perfect that day.

There are so many things that prevent us from being perfect.  Any time we sin or do something that God does not like, we are no longer perfect.  It just takes one thing to break up the perfect game of our life.  In fact, we never even started out perfect.  We were sinners from the beginning.

But in humanities greatest need, Christ submitted to the will of the Father and took a trip to the mound.  He humbled himself, took on our flesh, was perfect for us, traveled to the hill of Calvary and died a death meant for us.  Jesus, God in the flesh expressed unconditional love as he took the signs from the father, submitted to HIS plan, and was perfect for us.  His actions were not intended to get us out, but to bring us home. 

Submission is not such a bad thing.  Paul continues…
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.

While Paul uses marriage as his analogy here, his point is made clear in verse 25.  Husbands can love their wives because Christ unconditionally loved the church. 
We have been called to submit to Christ, to let Him take the lead, to follow Him and in so doing we become wrinkle free, spotless and sparkling. 

There was a time in my life when every morning I woke up early to iron my shirt and pants.  It was a regular part of my day.  Like clockwork I would set up the ironing board, get the spray starch ready, click on the iron and try to get the wrinkles out.  It was something that had to be done daily. Eventually I learned of shirts that are wrinkle free and my life changed. As I get older I have begun to see other wrinkles, not in cloth but in skin.  As age and sun have taken a toll on my face, the evidence is clear.  Now some might consider them laugh lines but let’s be honest, they are more like worry lines than anything else.  These wrinkles are something I try to deal with as well.  Daily moisturizer and sunscreen are now a part of my morning routine.  In an attempt to halt the ravages of time and age I still battle wrinkles. 

There are many times when we want to try to get the wrinkles out of our lives by ourselves. We make attempts to fix the relationships that we have broken; we try to smooth over the rough words that were said in haste.  We try to clean up the spills and blemishes of our own lives.  But the more we try, the worse things seem to get.  When we do not live “under” Christ and the cross things seem to get out of hand. 

God loves you so much and in His desire for you to be clean, Jesus took the wrinkles and dirt of your sin, the blemishes and spots of selfishness and has given you His radiant righteousness. God’s unconditional love makes you perfect in His sight.

Let’s get back to our text…
31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

You see, Paul calls this a mystery, but that does not mean that it is impossible to understand, but it is something we cannot figure out on our own.  The real mystery is the one-way love of Christ; for He redeemed weak and worthless sinners and has gathered them together in His church to be His bride.

Christ died to make you holy, clean and perfect, to take away your sin, to smooth out your wrinkles, to clear your blemishes.  There is not an iron hot enough or a cream powerful for us to do it on our own but Jesus desires for you to be his perfect holy bride. 

Those who are in Christ Jesus will one day, in heaven experience what it will be like as we are presented to Christ on the last day as his radiant bride, without stain or winkle, or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 

Submission is not a bad thing, not in a marriage and not in our relationship with our Lord.  God has given us an order of things, and as we look to his word, we see the signs and let him take the lead, for because of him perfection is ours. 
-Pastor Seth Moorman


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