How do we discern the will of God? First we allow his Spirit to be the controlling agent in our lives. Second, we look at every situation through the lens of God's blessings, giving thanks in all things in Christ. Thirdly, we we confess to one another intellectually and emotionally the things we believe. Finally, we submit to one another. Whoa, what was that last one!?
How does submitting to one another help discern the will of God, and why in the world would I put my trust in other people?
In the context of Ephesians high call to unity submitting to another is fundamental, but it goes deeper then unity. Submitting to one another goes to the core of our faith and the nature of God. God is three in one, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Though they have different roles and responsibilities they are equal in every way. Yet, Jesus submits to the Father's will, and the Spirit submits to Jesus' reception of glory. They do not seek glory for themselves though each deserves infinite honor and praise.
Philippians says it best when we are told that Jesus did not see his position something to be grasped, but gave it up to become a man and die for our sins. When we submit to one another we are reflecting the very image of God in us.
Submission can also be an expression of love. Not only does Jesus demonstrate it by becoming a man, he demonstrated it at the last supper, and he demonstrated it daily as he obeyed both religious and civil laws. We are now called to love one another. It is our love for one another that demonstrates our discipleship. The world knows we are followers of Jesus when we love one another. It's not our church attendance, it's not our bible memory, it's not our theological purity or ecclesiastical affiliation. As important as those might be it is our love, compassion, and submission to one another that is most important.
What does submission entail? It is voluntary. The passage this morning doesn't say submit one another (my power over you), but submit to (my power to allow). For the sake of love and unity I submit my opinions, my desires, my aspirations for the other persons best. As Jesus told Pilate "you have no authority over me but that which the Father has given." He submitted himself into Pilate's hands because he knew the outcome would be salvation for the world; our best.
Submission considers other people's needs as important as our own. Community living doesn't elevate and prioritize need by wealth, social status, beauty, or power. I don't get to go to the front of the line because I posses these things, rather I submit what I believe to be my right so that you are elevated and your needs are met first.
Our submission to one another is out of love and reverence for Christ. This is the most crucial element because it is our motivation. Submitting to another sinner is difficult because we don't trust them. What if they abuse the position I give them? What if they don't submit back? What if I find myself in a worse place? All valid questions. The Passage says, Jesus. Our trust is that He knows what he is talking about and will turn all things to our good and for his glory.
When it comes to the high call of unity we are asked to make sacrifices. Not blind sacrifices but difficult sacrifices. In a culture that values power and position over unity the church stands out. What if our government practiced this? What if our schools practiced this? What if our neighborhoods? What if our families practiced this? The world would be completely changed forever. It can only happen if we first submit to Jesus. I'm just saying..
Ephesians 5:21 "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."