Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Loving By Submission

S‑1072 09/07/2008 17SAP/3A Hymns: (O) #577; (S) #400; (C) #457

Texts: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:1-10; Matthew 20:1-20

Theme: “Loving By Submission” (Romans 13:1, 8).


Question: “Is being Submissive easy for you?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the book of Romans. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God… Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:1, 8).

INTRODUCTION: Saints in Christ listen to this dialogue: The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message. “Alter your course 10 degrees south.” Promptly a return message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north.”

The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: “Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am the captain!” Soon another message was received: “Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am seaman third class Jones.” Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: “Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am a battleship.” Then the reply came “Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am a lighthouse.” (Paul Aiello, Jr. / submission).

On the surface we may laugh at this discourse. However, this is not a laughing matter, because it shows the heart of man that it doesn’t willfully like to submit to authority. Neither the captain nor seaman Jones was willing to submit. However, since the lighthouse was stationary, the captain had no choice but to submit.

How about us? Are we willing to submit to the authority? Truthfully we must acknowledge that we just like the captain and seaman Jones have a hard time to submit—whether it is a husband submitting to his wife, or a wife submitting to her husband. Whether it is a child submitting to his father, or a daughter to her mother; whether a student to a teacher, or a teacher to a student; pastor to people or people to pastor. We struggle and strain to obey the authority over us.

In another book by the Apostle Paul he writes these helpful words. “… in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submit {tting} to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:20b-21). Our submission then ought to be for the sake of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. It is out of reverence for Him that we are exhorted by Paul to do so.

But here is a problem. We don’t like to submit. It is against our nature to submit to anyone. If neither husband or wife; son or daughter; teacher or student; Pastor and people are not willing to submit to one another, how on earth can these words of our text from Romans 13 be easy for us to swallow? St. Paul says, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. We must keep in mind at what time Paul penned these words. It was at a time when the maniac madman Nero was emperor. It was during the bloodthirsty Nero that the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write these words to the saints at Rome. Paul did not advise Christians to be subject to the governing authority only if it was agreeable to them. Indeed, he says, “For there is no authority except from God”. Thus, we who know the truth of God’s Word must obey and submit to the governing authority, unless they tell us to go against our Lord and His Word.

In our nation, where the governing authorities are really “we the people,” we have difficulty deciphering what we should do. In the midst of this election cycle we are more likely to be cynical rather than submissive. When it comes to politics we are more likely to be combative rather than cooperative as we have witnessed lately at the National Democratic and Republican Conventions.

Why is this? We are like this because we don’t like to submit. In our own eyes and the world’s we see submission as weakness. A Submissive candidate can’t get elected. A submissive athlete is easily defeated. A submissive child is bullied in the classroom. A submissive business goes out of business. NONE of these submissions are positive.

They are not positive because this is submission in the way of the Law. St. Paul’s Holy Spirit driven call to be submissive to the government is one of the Law. If you don’t submit you pay the price. If you don’t submit to speed limit on the highway, you will pay the price. The State trooper does not bear the sword, or the ticket pad, in vain. If you don’t submit to the governing authority and you don’t pay your taxes, the IRS doesn’t bear the sword, or the prison term in vain. You see, you really don’t have to submit. But if you choose not to, you will pay the price.

However, saints in Christ, there is another way of submission that Paul speaks of to the saints in Rome and the Saints in Armour. This other way of submission is one that is born out of freedom to the Gospel. Paul says it this way. Love is the fulfilling of the law. This fulfilling of the Law is actually the message of the Gospel.

You see, it is in the Gospel that true submission is revealed. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the One who submitted on your behalf. It was submission to our heavenly Father’s will that brought our Lord Jesus off of His heavenly throne into the womb of a virgin named Mary. It was Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will that moved Him from the Jordan into the wilderness to face down satan the accuser. It was Jesus’ submission to the will of the Father that moved Him from the Upper Room, to Gethsemane, and on to Golgotha. It was Jesus’ submission under the burden of the Law that we could not keep that led Him to endure the scorn and shame of the cross. There on that cross Jesus showed the ultimate submission as an act of love. Jesus Himself captured this when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

It is out of love for the Savior that we submit to one another. Not to demonstrate that we are weak, but rather that we are witnesses to the love of Jesus that fills our hearts and moves us to obey those whom God placed over us. PAUSE.

Stephen Beck writes: “Driving down a country road, I came to a very narrow bridge. In front of the bridge, a sign was posted: ‘YIELD.’ Seeing no oncoming cars, I continued across the bridge and to my destination. On my way back, I came to the same one-lane bridge, now from the other direction. To my surprise, I saw another YIELD sign posted. Curious, I thought, ‘I’m sure there was one posted on the other side.’ When I reached the other side of the bridge I looked back. Sure enough, yield signs had been placed at both ends of the bridge. Drivers from both directions were requested to give right of way. It was a reasonable and gracious way of preventing a head-on collision. When the Bible commands Christians to ‘to submit to one another’ (Ephesians 5:21) it is simply a reasonable and gracious command to let the other have the right of way and avoid interpersonal head-on collisions. ( /submission).

What a great advice that is. If only we can keep doing it. Never on our own power, but by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we will be able to carry this task. As Paul tells us, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

The way of submission is the way of love. Our Lord puts things like our government in place for our own good. Speed limits are in place to keep us safe. Building codes are in place to make sure our homes are safe to live in. Laws against treason are in place to keep the nation safe against enemies within and without. This is our God caring for us. This is GOSPEL. This is the Lord loving us and us loving the Lord in return.

Perhaps, you have heard of our presidential candidates saying they want to help us and work for us in Washington. It is great to hear the candidate’s promises. But will have to wait and see if they will keep their word. But there is another who came to work for us, not because He had too, but because He wanted to. Jesus did not ask to go to Washington but willfully He went to the Wood of the cross in love to carry your burdens, your sins, your death and your punishment. He did it not because He is getting paid, but rather to pay for our inability to fulfill the Law of God. This He did as He submitted in love to His heavenly Father. What a joy to know that we have One who fights for us now and always. Why is that a joy? Because the whole life of Christ was a life lived in submission. For without submission there is no absolution. Indeed, it is a joy to know that submitted to the will of the Father to the point of death on the cross for us. Amen.

Now the peace…

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