A Subversive Resistance

By Chris Reitmayer, November 21, 2021

Ephesians 5:21-6:24

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

21 Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.

23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you personally know when you are being influenced more by the cultural worldview than the way of Jesus and the worldview of the Scriptures? In what ways do you most feel the pull or tension of the western cultural narrative?

  2. How do you know (what signs are there) when you are letting the self get on the throne instead of Jesus? How do you know when you are living more submitted to God?

  3. What do you think about the idea of being a subversive resistance? When, if ever, should Christians protest?

  4. When is it alright for Christians to leave a church? How should we discern if we're avoiding a submission issue or if we have good reasons for leaving?

  5. Why is it so hard to submit to one another/elevate the other above ourselves?

  6. How can you personally work/contribute towards building up the unity of the church?

  7. Making it personal. Often when we’ve been hurt or offended our natural tendency is to pull away or withdraw. The danger of this practice is that we then start to reinterpret things through the lens of our frustration or pain, which is generally not a great revealer of truth. In what area/relationship have you pulled away from or withdrawn? In what ways can you make steps towards as an act of healing and submission?


[this practice has been adapted/borrowed from https://practicingtheway.org/world-flesh-devil/part-seven - to see more such practices visit https://practicingtheway.org/practices/fighting]

Exercise 1: The Idea Audit

The goal is to identify the sources through which we intake ideas, recognize what those ideas are, and analyze whether or not they align with the way of the world or the way of Jesus. Note: To say that an idea has entered your mind is not to say that you ascribe to that idea. Instead, we want to simply recognize the ideas that are coming before us each and every day.

Step 1: Identify where your ideas come from.
  1. Take a few minutes to think about where your ideas come from. This can be social media, movies, shows, music, art, friends, books, podcasts, or something else. On a piece of paper, in a journal, or in an iPhone note, write down 3-5 sources of ideas in your life, beginning with the most influential. (Hint: If you’re not sure which sources are most influential, begin with the sources that consume the most time, that evoke the most emotion, or to which your mind travels most when you're distracted.)
  2. Once everyone has made their list, have everyone go around and share their list.
Step 2: Recognize what your ideas are.
  1. Have each person select one source of ideas, ideally the one they think is most influential (television, social media, podcasts, etc.)
  2. Once you have selected your idea source, reflect on that source by asking, “what idea(s) is this source presenting me with?” If you’re having a hard time, start with one particular moment with that source (E.g. the most recent episode, your last conversation, the last chapter you read).
  3. Spend a few minutes writing down the ideas that you have received from that source and whether or not you’d say you believe them or agree with them.
Consider these examples:
  • Example 1: In the most recent episode of _________, the message behind the story was _________.
  • Example 2: As I’ve scrolled through my Instagram feed lately, I’ve found myself feeling like _______.
  • Example 3: I listened to a podcast this week that was all about ______.
  • Example 4: My friend keeps telling me that ______.

Once everyone has an idea or two, move on to…

Step 3: Analyze your ideas together.
  1. Have each person share one of the ideas that has passed through their mind lately and the source that it came from.
  2. Then, discuss as a group how that idea might or might not align with the way of the world and how that idea might or might not align with the way of Jesus.
Step 4: Fast
  1. Now that you’ve taken note of some of this influential sources and the ideas they transmit, are there any sources that you want to take a break from (fast) for a season?

  2. Decide which one and how long. Is there a spiritual practice (to fill your heart and mind with the way of Jesus) you will undertake instead? Discuss with the group your plan and organize a time to reflect on any changes you noticed.