Aloha Friday Message – August 24, 2018 – Serving Others

1834AFC0082418 – Serving Others

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   Ephesians 5:21 21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.


¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!)

Today we revisit one of my Dad’s favorite verses. I have a kind of flickering memory of a plaque in our home on Ivy Way that said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” My Dad really worked at living like that, and – as head of the household – he helped us understand it was the right way to live. We were to serve Jesus first, others, second, and ourselves last. This adage produced the acronym JOYJesus, Others, Yourself. After over 70 years of hearing that aphorism, I can vouch for its authenticity and value. In fact, we’ve covered this passage a couple of times previously (See these references) Today we will try to go after some additional insights, nonetheless we encourage you to check out at least one of the five messages at that link – perhaps “1234AFC082412 – Who’s your Master?” would be a good choice. If you do that, you can add some additional perspective to this message about submitting to another. What does that mean, anyway?

To submit, in this context, is to surrender, acquiesce, yield, accept, surrender; it is to cease desisting, stop resisting, and end insisting on getting things your way. We are not very good at that Belovéd! Our society greatly values independence, self-reliance, individualism to the point of exclusion of everyone else. Shall we serve someone? It breaks my heart to know that all too often the response to that is, “Oh, hell no!” If you will take a look at that other post, you’ll find this link: ~~ Bob Dylan Gotta serve somebody, 1979. (↔ Music Link) It’s a great track, so take some time to enjoy it. It’s a good tie-in with the idea of our Key Verse – Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. This is deep, deep Christology which we should investigate further.

In this passage, the word for submitting comes from ὑποτάσσω (hupotassó) {hoop-ot-as’-so} to place under, or submit one’s self; and it has a suffix – transliterated menoi – which in context means to remain, or to be held/kept continually; thus, we have ὑποτασσόμενοι (hupotassomenoi) {hoop-ot-as’-so-me’-nō-ee}. It is a relationship that is “forever;” it doesn’t dissolve in a torrent of adversity, or a puddle of disappointment. There is staying-power in this kind of relationship. It is like our relationship with Jesus is supposed to be – lasting, indestructible, and mutual. It is a Christ-like thing to do: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (See John 13:34) The apostle insists  married Christians should develop a strong mutual love as he insists that marriage is a ordained by God (See Genesis 2:24). In this context, Christian marriage takes on a deeper understanding of the intimate relationship of love between Christ and the church. Wives should assist their husbands in the same manner as t the Church  serves Christ (See Ephesians 5:22-24), and the husband should provide for  and nurture his wife with the devotion of Christ to the church (See Ephesians 5:25-30). This wasn’t “the way it was” back in Paul’s day. It certainly has been misrepresented and abused in recent history, and it isn’t really very popular these days, either. It is uncommon to find wives who are submissive to their husbands “in all things.” (See Ephesians 5:24) In fact, there are some couples – married or not – who believe mutual submission is junk and contrary to their life-values. As we have said here in the past, that’s not the way God set things up. There are rules in the universe he created, and one of those rules is mutuality of service – to Him and to each other.

That is why the Apostle Paul continues by saying “ to one another.” Being selfish creates an intolerable imbalance in the mutuality of respect. Respect is a gift that should be freely given. If the giver offers respect and the gift is rejected, then the intended recipient fails to gain respect. If we insist that respect – and by inference, love – must be earned, then that makes these kinds of relationships into commodities. You cannot earn respect because that makes it a commodity, something that can be bought or sold. You cannot – and must not insist upon – love being earned for the same reason. The act of loving must be a gift; when accepted, it becomes mutual; when rejected, it remains as love unreturned, but love nonetheless. Love is what prompts us to submit to another. God is Love. He loved us before we loved him. (See 1 John 4:19) We love God because of that – and because of everything else he does for us – and that mutuality of love completes God’s plans for us. (See Deuteronomy 6:4-9) Loving and serving God is the precedent for loving and serving each other – even outside the bonds of Holy Matrimony. That is why the Apostle Paul continues by saying “ out of reverence for Christ.

We do not love one another or serve one another for personal gain. Well, that’s not quite right these days, is it? In fact, through the ages, many have professed love and service solely for the purpose of personal gain. It goes both ways; men as well as women misconstrue the concept of a marriage partner as a way to get ahead or even to get even. Here we can look back to what Joshua told Israel as they were on the verge of cleaning up Canaan: Joshua 24:15 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Belovéd, those who are unwilling to serve the LORD will certainly find it difficult to serve another. Conversely, those who have difficulty serving another will definitely have great difficulty in serving the Lord. If we place our lives as first, that places God – at best – as second, and that’s not going to last. That is the formula for a very turbulent and tortuous life. In Creation, there is a proper order for everything and everyone. Some of the more miserable people we know are trying so hard to combine unrelated life-ways that include truth and untruth. They want to be Christian / Buddhist / Hindu / Amerindian / Scientologist / Rastafarian all in one day. As Hagrid would say, “Codswallop!” (← Image Link!) This kind of “spiritualist Smörgåsbord” is unfulfilling; in fact it is so unhealthy that it brings about a perpetual despondence that cripples those who try it. “The LORD your God is ONE.” (See Deuteronomy 6:4 CJB) Of course that doesn’t mean that you’re not free to make up your own gods and serve them. You can even borrow other peoples’ gods to serve. If, however, you want to serve El Shaddai-Olam – Almighty-Everliving God – there’s only one choice, so take it, make it, and never break it. You have Free Will. Use it wisely. Try starting with this question:

Are you grateful that you serve God before all, in all, and for all? If you and your household truly serve the LORD, then serving others is part of your inner-being. It’s not nearly as difficult as many make it out to be – this whole idea of being subject to one another. Turn your eyes, you heart, your mind, your ears, your whole being upon Jesus. No matter what happens to you, when you Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, (↔ Music Link) your life is set aright. If you’re like me and things get “a little crazy” sometimes, take a minute to put your hand in the hand of the Man (↔ ANOTHER Music Link) who stilled the waters. You will indeed see others – and yourself – differently enough to be mutually subject to one another.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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