Hello and welcome to Thursday’s podcast.
This week, we’ve been asking the question – what does it mean to follow to Jesus? To throw off the old self (as we read on Tuesday) and put on the new self (as we looked at yesterday).
We’ve been going through Paul’s letter to the Colossians and today we reach the end of Chapter Three. Let’s look at today’s passage taken from the Message translation and in particular let’s focus on this section: ‘Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ’.
In this section of his letter to the Colossians, Paul gives instructions for various members of a Christian household in terms of how they are to conduct themselves. What Paul sets out here, as he does in some of his other letters, is challenging. It would have been challenging for the believers living in first century Colassae and it’s just as challenging for us now, as disciples living in 21st century Britain. And whilst it is important to take into account the historical context and the cultural norms of which Paul was writing this letter into, what we’re presented with here is just as relevant now as it was back then.
So what are we presented with? Well this passage is an incredibly practical one. It’s centred around the relationships people have within a household and reads almost like a code of conduct. It’s important to remember that as we read this passage and when we talk about a household, we’re talking about the ‘oikos’ to use the Greek term. The oikos was bigger than just the nuclear family and also included extended family, servants, business associates and friends. They all gathered in the ‘oikos’. They were a community. And Paul takes each of the different relationships represented in the household, the community and gives instructions for how each group are to conduct themselves. You can hear them read out at the end of this podcast.
But what’s noticeable is that there’s a pattern. In the Message version, which we’re using today, we keep seeing the phrase ‘the Master’ repeated. In the NIV version, each of Paul’s instructions are rooted in the term, ‘The Lord’ or an equivalent term. The reason Paul is doing this is he wants to point something out to us.
We read in today’s passage: ‘Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ’.
We serve Christ. That through the cross, Christ died so that we might have this new life, this new self, the new identity he gives us as children of God. But there’s a sense in which that each day we’re faced with a choice –Are we going to serve Jesus? Are we going to put on the new self? Are we going to live that new life Jesus offers us?
And it goes back to what James talked about two weeks ago – it’s all about grace. We read in Ephesians Two – For it is by grace that you have been saved. And this is not your own doing. It’s a gift from God. That through Jesus, and what he did for us on the cross, we are put right with God. Our previously broken relationship with our heavenly father is completely restored. We are rescued, saved and set free. It’s something we could never do or earn for ourselves. But through God’s great love for us, through Jesus, we can!
And so Paul is saying, ‘Keep in mind Christ’ and remember that ultimately, in everything we do, in all of our earthly relationships, we are serving Jesus. That we are to be people who seek to be right with others, to have right relationships with others knowing that we do so because of God’s grace in our lives. Because through Jesus, we have been made right with God.
‘Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ’, Paul writes
Whether you’re a husband, a wife, a parent, a child, a servant –these are al the groups Paul mentions today, keep in mind that ultimately you’re serving Christ – the servant king. The one who washed his disciples’ feet and then said go and do likewise. Living in the freedom that God’s grace bring us means choosing to serving others. It means loving others. As we heard yesterday, it’s giving others our best. It’s about being right with others.
Throughout our day let’s have that Godly perspective with our relationships with others. Let’s ask ourselves the question: Is how I’m treating this person – my wife, my husband, my child, my class mate, my course mate, my teacher, my boss – is how I’m treating them reflecting that I serve Jesus and therefore I live a new life, a changed life? Is the way I’m treating them honouring them? Is it honouring God?
It’s a massive challenge for us when you consider it like that. It goes beyond our households. It how we live out there in the world. The question we’re posed today is: are we seeking to serve others? It’s something that we can only start grasp and put into practise through living in God’s grace. Through His spirit at work within us. Without that, serving others becomes a task, an obligation, a chore and we find ourselves striving to do it. This Lent at STC, we’re being challenged to bring it all back to the cross and remember that we love, we serve others because he first loved us. Jesus – the servant King.
Jesus, thank you that on the cross you restored our relationship with our heavenly Father. Thank you that through your grace, we’ve been set free. That we have a new life. Come Holy Spirit. Fill our lives afresh today and help us to live our lives seeking to be right with other people – to love them, to encourage them, to honour them and in doing so reflect your great love for each of us.
READING: COLOSSIANS 3:18-4:1 (MSG)
Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.
Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them.
Children, do what your parents tell you. This delights the Master no end.
Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.
Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.
And masters, treat your servants considerately. Be fair with them. Don’t forget for a minute that you, too, serve a Master—God in heaven.