"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Submission and The Greatest Among Us

Have you ever thought of hierarchy as part of the curse?  Or of Jesus turning hierarchy on its head with all those teachings of the last being first and the one who serves others being the greatest of all?  Note to all who want to be big shots served by others: in God's kingdom things are different!

I thought this was an interesting perspective. What do you think?

When his disciples argued among themselves about who would be greatest in the kingdom, Jesus told them that "anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all" (Mark 9:35 updated NIV). 

In speaking to them about authority he said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many"  (Matthew 20:25-28).

This aspect of Jesus' legacy profoundly affected relationships in the early church, to whom Paul wrote:

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

In the biblical narrative, hierarchy enters human relationship as part of the curse, and begins with man's oppression of women - "your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you" (Genesis 3:16).  But with Christ, hierarchal relationships are exposed for the sham that they are, as the last are made first, the first are made last, the poor are blessed, the meek inherit the earth, and the God of the universe takes the form of a slave.

Women should not have to pry equality from the grip of Christian men. It should be surrendered willingly, with the humility and love of Jesus, or else we miss the once radical teaching that slaves and masters, parents and children, husbands and wives, rich and poor, healthy and sick, should "submit to one another" (Ephesians 5:21).

This sort of mutual submission worked best in our marriage long before we knew what to call it.

That's because I don't respect Dan because he is a man. I respect Dan because when one of his friends moves, he's the first to show up with his Explorer to help. I respect him because he's the kind of guy who treats everyone with the same level of dignity, from his clients to the clerk behind the checkout counter. I respect Dan because he'll come right out and say, "That's not funny" when someone makes a racist or homophobic joke. I respect him because he likes to do things right the first time, even when no one is watching. I respect Dan because he has spent countless Saturday afternoons at my parents' house, planting bushes and installing showerheads and fixing the computer.

I respect him because I've seen him cry on behalf of his friends. I respect Dan because he is smart enough to win just about any argument, but that doesn't mean he always does.  I respect him because he gets as excited over someone else's success as he gets over his own....

I don't respect my husband because he is the man and I am the woman and it's my "place" to submit to him. I respect Dan because he is a good person, and because he has made me a better person too.

This is grace. And for us, it goes both ways.

(pg. 218-220 of A Year of Biblical Womanhood? by Rachel Held Evans)


Amber said...

I started reading this book today! So far, loving it!

I don't respect my husband because he is the man and I am the woman and it's my "place" to submit to him. I respect Dan because he is a good person, and because he has made me a better person too.
This is grace. And for us, it goes both ways.

This. This is perfect.

Unknown said...

I loved reading about your husband. He sounds like a great guy and it's obvious you have a great relationship. :) Your description sounds like something one of my teachers told me, that marriage should always make both parties better and stronger people in every aspect of their lives. That advice changed my life and is the reason I finally decided to marry Mr Sanil, and seeing other people live it makes me happy.

I also liked this interpretation in general. Very interesting points! I hadn't thought of it in that way, actually I don't think I'd thought much about hierarchy in the Bible at all, but this makes sense. And also kind of sounds like something I'll have to file away for future sermon ideas. :D

Susanne said...

Amber, great! I'm glad you are reading it finally. ;)

Sanil, this was actually written by Rachel Held Evans about her husband Dan. I thought about writing about Andrew because he's really wonderful as well. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for your feedback. :)

Unknown said...

*facepalm* This is why I shouldn't try to talk to people after I've stayed up all night. I was tired but waiting for Mr Sanil to come home so we could do grocery shopping, so I decided it was a good time to catch up on my blogs. And then while I was reading this, I was thinking "huh, that's weird. Dan doesn't quite sound right. Maybe I just forgot, though, because she doesn't talk about him all the time." And then, obviously, completely missed the line at the bottom where you mention it's from a book. :D

Sorry about that! It makes much more sense now. :)