Hello and welcome to Wednesdays foundations podcast. I’m James and this week as we look to finish the letter to the Colossians and today and the next two days we get to see some really practical examples of what living the better life could look like.
Today, Paul gives some specific instructions around relationships and homes. In other words, if Jesus really did come back to life, if he really is the son of God and if he really is Lord. Then that has implications on the rest of our lives. We are sort of exploring the question: what does it look like to be a Christian behind closed doors… when no one else is watching? So he uses the example of the Roman home. In that example he talks particularly about the flow of power and reshapes it around Jesus.
Let me explain. The Roman household was a well known institution of the time. There were fixed dynamics at play that spread across the entire empire. In terms of the flow of power, it was typically: HUSBAND > WIFE > KIDS > SLAVES. Everybody knew this and expected this to be normal.
In a resurrection household power is shown as sacrificial love and reshaped around Jesus. He says 7 things over 9 verses.
- Jesus is Lord. He is the top of the pile or the central focus.
- The wife chooses her husband to become responsible for her.
- The husband is also subject to Jesus and he loves his wife and he places her needs above his own.
- Children are seen not as objects but are called to maturity and respect.
- Parents are to raise their kids with patience and understanding.
- Christians who are slaves are to honour their masters… because they are not the real master… Jesus is!
- Christians who have slaves are to understand that the slave is not their property, but a fellow brother/sister in Christ, and to be loved as such.
Can you see how this new framework reshapes household around Jesus and his self-giving love?
What does a relationship with God look like when there is no one else is looking? Most of this advice is super practical and really specific but there are principles here we can look to apply. We are all children of somebody but not necessarily parents – certainly we are not slaveowners, praise the Lord. Despite our family background, let’s approach this with an open heart and see what there is to learn.
Well from the verses today this looks like 2 things: submitting & love.
Firstly, Paul says “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” I’m aware this may sit uncomfortably for some people. It may not bother others. But we can’t simply remove these words or ignore them. I think the tension might be around what we think submission looks like. We often paint it in the same brush as weakness or surrender but the two couldn’t be further apart. There is strong emphasis here that the two elements are to be united. Different yet together. Together but not the same. Their difference at times may bring challenge – life is messy, we are human, there is always challenge. But when we grasp Biblical submitting we can understand this is not weakness but a preference for the other. It is a wife telling a husband “I will prefer you”. It’s a significant sign that says I will prefer this relationship over my independence. We over I.
Relationships are of course a 2-way street. Although submitting is never conditional, it is useful to anticipate what might be coming back the other way. Paul’s instruction to the husband is “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them”. This is what a Christian household is to look like. One of preference of another and of love. Love not simply that asks “what can I take from this relationship?” but “what do I have left to commit to this person?” A love that says “I am all in.”
Let us be reminded today that this is the kind of love Jesus has for the church. Often we only remember when we are in the four walls of the church building but I am struck today that this is advice for the home. Behind closed doors. Where few can see but they often know the best and worst of us. Let us not take these people for granted who stick by us and cheer us on daily. Let us love them as Christ loves the church. Prefer the other and demonstrate our love for each other either in words or actions.
Is there a kind word we can offer a close friend today?
A token of love and affection for a loved one?
Do we need to make phone call to a relative?
Are there some more creative ways we can we parent our kids into maturity and respect? If you have cracked that one I’d love to learn.
God thank you that we are all called into relationships. That we don’t work out life alone. Would you teach us what it looks like to have godly households of faith. And teach us what it looks like to submit & love one another. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Colossians 3:18-4:1
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favouritism.
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.