“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

It was my first trip to Uganda. I was part of a three-days Pastor’s Conference and was bringing the morning and afternoon training. And each day the same Ugandan Pastor would finish off the day with what we call in the west, a holy-rolling spiritual encounter.

It wasn’t really my style. I didn’t even understand it all the way. There were mixed messages, parts that did make sense to me but then parts that made no sense to me whatsoever. Yet I was determined to learn and simply waited on the Lord to explain the elements of which I was unsure.

We were not too sure of each other, this pastor and I, but with three days to hear, see, and witness each other’s hearts we came to a tentative agreement of sorts between us, (all of this in the unspoken realm of body language and spiritual authority).

If nothing else I had seen that this man had a profound anointing of the Holy Spirit. So even though much of what he was doing didn’t make sense to me, I was quite aware that I was in a completely different country and I wanted to learn how God shows up in different cultures. I was eager to learn.

My second trip to Uganda had this gentleman and myself in ministry alongside each other for another number of days. I became more used to his very loud and exuberant demonstrations about the Lord, and he seemed to get used to my slightly quieter yet strong way of doing things. Our mutual rapport and respect began to grow.

Keep in mind that we could not communicate. He spoke virtually no English and I of course spoke no Luganda. And yet, despite this, the Holy Spirit began to grow us in sync with one another. When I was preaching and drawing near to praying freedoms and healing he would get to his feet bouncing in anticipation as the Spirit would fall heavily amongst us. I began to really enjoy him.

One of my last days of that trip I was at this gentleman’s church. I’d spent two days at each church. He introduced me to his congregation with respect and a simple, “This is a powerful woman.” I recognized in him a growing understanding that authority does not have so much to do with volume but with something much deeper. He was learning from me as much as I was learning from him.

Near the end of our first day he made the announcement that the next day he would be anointing and praying over people in regards to their problems. I thought to myself, “Gosh I have some problems! I am going to have to make sure that he prays for me.” I had seen that this man moved in the Spirit of God and I could definitely use some of that blessing over me.

Simply put, I could use more of God. The next day arrived. I spoke in the first session, and as we came to his afternoon prayer time I was ready and excited about him praying for me and my problems.

As with most times we had olive oil for anointing during prayer, and his church was no different. Into a bowl he poured olive oil, ready for anointing all those who wanted prayer. Yet before I could catch my breath, all of a sudden he had placed the bowl of olive oil in my hands and was on his knees in front of me, waiting for me to pray and bless and anoint him.
I was surprised to say the least. Turns out we had both been thinking the same thing. Each of us wanted to make sure the other prayed for us. I prayed over him, and then the other leaders came and I prayed over them as well. After this it took some intention to make my point of, “Please pray for me too” as I got on my knees.

This is but one story of mutual recognition of spiritual authority that takes place on every one of my ministry journeys. What these experiences feel to me are the essence of what the Bible is speaking of when it says ‘submit yourselves to one another’. Ephesians 5:25

Submission is a little understood word. We use it all the time to justify keeping others low. Yet, I am pretty certain that much of our understanding of submission in no way accurately represents the heart of God. Rather than having anything to do with position or title, these mutual submissions were moments when we recognized the authority each carried and we mutually came under each other’s anointing (God’s touch through his people) for personal blessing and up-lifting.

Simple moments of equipping and bounty poured out from the Lord through and over each other.
Theses mutual submissions mark an intimacy with the Lord. In them we are marked by a pouring down of our Holy Spirit. By them we mark each other with respect and honor. We are all strengthened and touched to the core of our beings. And that is a grand understatement.

Moments holding tangible lessons in the essence of submission that speak of and accurately reflect the generous nature of God’s heart. And I wonder if we were to substitute the word submit with the word receive what that would reveal and how might our relationships with God and each other change?

What new strengths or understandings might we take on?
How might our ministry relationships be enhanced?
How might our marriages and friendships be strengthened?

Let’s try to understand submission and this mutual receiving according to the heart of our Lord:

In marriage for instance:

Women are called to ‘receive’ because we know that when things go bad and wrong in a marriage relationship the first thing a woman no longer wants to do is to receive from her man. This is the first thing that begins to break down. And in fact, if we were to take the ‘submit/receive’ injunction as a barometer, a tell-tale sign of how things are going in a marriage, then we would look at a marriage where the woman in not receiving and realize that her husband has broken trust with her in some way. When a wife is not receiving from her man we know that things are going wrong.

For men, called to mutually ‘receive’, we see the distinction given to not ‘take’ but to receive. Here men are also challenged to do life with their wife in a different way than the world tells them. Instead of taking what he thinks is rightfully his, he is called to come in a position of receiving. And of course, this goes beyond meals and sex and care-taking from their woman, it also extends to a man being able to receive the wisdoms and observations of his wife.

For men to stand before God one day and to hear well-done good and faithful servant it is imperative that he pay attention and give credibility to the words and wisdoms of his wife. He is to receive from her what she is seeing for she is seeing things that her man cannot see.
She is understanding issues in a way that he does not understand. And so it is a wise man who pays attention to his wife and receives the wisdoms that are there within her, given by God to him through his wife.

It is important to operate out of the spirit of the Lord in our marriages and not the letter of the law.

In ministry, for example:

Often those in ministry are building their own kingdoms. There can be posturing and envy between pastors and ministry leaders. There may be dissension and arguments and different individuals trying to be the biggest and most important in their community. Some even seek to maintain control of power by limiting information, limiting connections, limiting strength from the body of Christ. There are some very bad things going on in the body of Christ today.

It is exactly why mutual submission, this receiving from each other, is so absolutely vital in the church today. Instead of posturing to see who is the most important, we posture to serve one another. We give away information, we share connections, we offer our services one to another, and as churches we work in sync with each other in and for our communities. Instead of being islands unto ourselves, instead of being little kingdoms all at war with one another, the kingdom of God would have us working together, and part of this is receiving from each other.

Receiving from each other in a way that acknowledges that this one, the one we may secretly hate, has wisdom and something of the Lord for us, and so we receive it gratefully and with respect. Receiving from each other puts us all on level ground. We all have something to offer and we all have something we need. We enter into relationship and this mutual submission and receiving for our mutual benefit and strengthening and blessing in the Lord.

This is the heart of our Lord and the heart he would have for us in the body of Christ. And in this manner of being one to another, the world will see that we are different and will wonder why. And we just may have the opportunity to extend the kingdom of God in the areas where we live.

There would be even more applications and implications. I won’t go over them all here. But invite the Lord to continue to expand your understanding of mutual submission, of receiving from each other, and see what he reveals to you.

Let me finish this chapter with one more example. As I travel to numerous communities and churches and nations, I find that the Lord is always setting up my times in countries with a particular blessing or anointing from someone there in the country.

On a three month ministry time in Uganda the months were book-ended by the anointing of the Lord through children. The first week I was in the country there was a boy of about nine-years old who wanted to pray for the visitors. I immediately recognized that this was the Lord through him and so I invited him to pray for me. I got on my knees and he put his hand on my head and prayed one of the most amazing prayers of anointing and blessing and peace that I have ever received.

And then, my last week in the country, I was staying with some friends in Kampala and next door there was a bible study one evening. I don’t remember the topic of the evening but I do remember that the worship and the words and sharing was like a washing of me and as I was finishing off the three months in the country; the Lord was spiritually cleansing me and restoring me.
Attending the Bible study was a young girl of about nine-years old. She had an amazing prophetic gifting from the Lord. She spoke with wisdom beyond her years; it was truly amazing and I realized that I wanted her to pray for me. And so, as the evening came to a close I caught her attention, told her that I recognized a strong prophetic expression of the Spirit on her and asked her if she would pray for me.

I got down on my knees before her and with great confidence and calm she placed her hand on my head and prayed a prayer of blessing and anointing and God’s heart over me.

I have learned to recognize the spirit of the living God in whomever he breathes through. In this case, it was children and I was more than honoured to kneel and to have them place their hands on my head and pray over me.

You see, in the kingdom of God and with the work of the Lord we cannot afford to be so big in our own minds that we won’t have children pray for us (or women pray for us, or for the one we deem less important pray for us). We cannot afford to be so important that we won’t kneel when it is time to do so. We cannot afford to put off the living God just because he is showing up in a way we are not used to or comfortable with. Rather, we must, we MUST, receive all that the Lord has for us in every single way he might bring it. Receiving from each other lives this out, and we are blessed and we bless the Lord.

APPLICATION

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • Where do you refuse to receive from others?
  • Which kind of people do you believe yourself to be better than?
  • When was the last time someone offered to bless you but you refused?
  • Who do you push away when they try to help you in some way?

All of this is pride. Pride is the most dangerous thing to our lives and our walk with God. We are clearly told that God opposes the proud. James 4:6 This means that where we operate out of our pride we set ourselves up as an enemy of God.

Pride also sets us up against others. Pride has us at the top of the world looking down on everyone else. Pride has us defending our perspectives without any ability to see the perspectives of others. Each one of us have people around us that have information and knowledge and awareness that would make us better. Are we listening for it, are we receiving these things from others?

Now, the prideful person would take this little bit of teaching that I just gave and would hammer it onto others. The prideful pastor would take what I just taught and would condemn their congregation for not receiving from others, particularly the pastor. Do Not Do This.

Take these questions and ONLY take them for yourself before the Lord. Do not think of all the other people who are violating these principles. Do not preach this, rather, be changed by it yourself, and begin to live it. This is what it means to be a person of great trust, a person of wisdom, and a person of peace.

Live each new truth first.

So, today, the application assignment is to live the revelation of the Lord in regards to mutual submission and to the state of your pride. Don’t be talking about these things, do not preach them at others, just live them yourself.

PRAYER

“God I want this kind of mutual give and take between myself and others. I want to operate out of a spirit of respect and submission, able to receive from others the blessing of your touch through them. I confess that I need the wisdom and insights that you have given to others. I see that we are stronger and better together, when we mutually share in the things of the Lord.

Today I welcome your continued heart change and teaching of this over my life. I say yes and amen to a new ability in my heart and mind to receive from others what they are seeing, what they are thinking, what they are sensing by your spirit. May I no longer disdain the voices and opinions of others but may I give room for their perspective — may I learn from them.

Thank you Lord for making us relational people. Help me to love others the way you love us. Amen.”

SUMMARY – MUTUAL SUBMISSION

God has made us to work together as a body 1 Corinthians 12: 12-26

We need each other

Each person has gifts from God that are meant to bless others Romans 12:3-8

Only in humility will we receive these things from others Psalm 25:9

In humility we are to serve others Matthew 20:25-28

=> One more lesson on Sulha and you will be finished Month Five.

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