The Family Memo: October 13, 2017
Info: upcoming events
September 10 – November 19
October Service Opportunities:
Lee H.S. Breakfast – 10/13 – 6:30 AM
Strong Tower Workday – 10/21 – 8:00 AM
Fair Workers Breakfast – 10/28 – 8:30 AM
Student Leadership Team:
Meeting November 1 @ 7:00 PM
- Thanksgiving Service Project – November 18
- Student Christmas Party – December 9
- Men’s Conference – January 26-27
- M6: Senior Retreat – January 13
- Disciple Now – February 16-18
- Woman’s Conference – February 23-24
- Ecuador Family Mission – March 10-17
- M6: Graduate Recognition – May 6
- M1: Parent/Church Commitment – May 13
- Six Flags – May 29
- VBS – June 4-8
- D3 Youth Conference – June 18-21
- Children’s Camp – July 9-12
Believing in an Unbelieving World
New Man in Relationships Part 3
Colossians 3:22-4:1 9-11-17
Paul is giving encouragement to a greater devotion to Jesus, and to live in the present as the kinds of new people we are now destined to become in Christ. In applying this principle, Paul addresses now is another household relationship, in the context of complementary authority and submission.
The relationship between domestic servants and masters of the house, though not a family relationship, still serves as a picture of the relationship we are to have with God, as His servants in Christ. So, we should look at it with expectant eyes, trying to see what it has to say to us.
Complementarian; a person who believes that God created male and female to reflect complementary truths about Jesus, and that He established a model of benevolent authority and voluntary submission as an example of the great love Christ has for us as His Bride, His Children, and His Church:
Husband and wife relationship, pictures the relationship between Christ and the Church,
Parents and children relationship, pictures the relationship between God the Father, and His Son – and therefore all of His children adopted through His Son.
Master and servant relationship, pictures the relationship between Christ as the master, and His Church – the slaves of Christ.
I. Servants; (22-25)
A. Following the pattern we have seen in every authority and submission relationship, the submissive role is given its command first.
Bondservant (doulos) can mean a broad range of servanthood from slave to deacon; one who gives himself up to another’s will; those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men; devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.
B. Again, the command is given its parameters, obey in all things.
Obey (hypakouō) has much the same meaning as the word for submit; to listen, to harken to a command, to submit to.
1. Just as with the submission of the wife and the children, the command to obey is not absolute. Paul does not intend every single thing, but every type of thing. There are limits to this command for servants to obey their masters.
2. Just as the sphere of the wife’s submission is defined, and the sphere of the children’s obedience is defined, the sphere of the servant’s obedience is defined, those who are your earthly masters. They are to obey those who are their earthly masters.
Believers who are slaves are to honor their human masters, precisely because they are not the real master, Jesus is.
Therefore, their obedience is to take on the nature of the New Man in Christ. God wants us to see that ultimately, we serve Him. Paul gives force to his argument by using an unusual phrase, You are serving the Lord Christ.
Joseph (Genesis 37) – Son sold into slavery, raised up, betrayed, forgotten, raised again to save his people.
So, we may not see our masters, those in positions of authority over us, as particularly smart, righteous, or even just; but we are to serve them, not as unto the Lord, as Paul has previously worded it, but because we are serving the true Master.
What about injustice, what about my offense?
Those are legitimate, and we should work to bring about justice in this life, as much as we are able, but for as long as you are in a position of submission to authority over you (and we all are in some way) we are to serve and trust God for justice and reconciliation, restoration, and reparations. (vs. 25)
Unlike with children and their parents, where obedience is starting point, leading to honor, here, obedience is all that is due the ,masters in the flesh. However, that obedience does point to something greater. Above all things, he is talking directly to us as believers, because we are all servants of Christ and slaves to righteousness. As Christians put on the new man, we will show a properly submissive attitude towards our masters, or in a modern context, towards our employer or supervisor, or anyone who is in authority over us.
Jesus, suffering servant (Isaiah 53), submissive to the will of the Father (Mark 14:36).
For ancient Christian slaves and for modern Christian workers, there is no guarantee on earth of fairness of treatment from those whom they work for. Sometimes partiality means that bad workers are unfairly rewarded and good employees are penalized or left unrewarded. Paul assures both our ancient brethren and us that there is a final rewarding and punishment, and with this there is no partiality.
What does this tell us about authority?
How should we respond to those who have authority over us?
II. Masters; (4:1)
Just as Paul’s words to husbands safeguards his words to wives, his command to Father’s safeguards his words to children. Believers who are masters are to understand that this servant is not their property, but rather, a fellow member of Jesus’ body, to be honored and embraced in love. It is obviously much easier for us to hear and sympathize with the command to slaves, but Paul addresses a message to believing masters as well.
Paul does not condone the system of slavery but instead provides instructions to believing masters regarding their relationship to their servants in the Lord. Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair. As Christians put on the new man, they will be just and fair to those who work for them.
It is a terrible thing for a boss to cheat or mistreat his workers, because they are abusing a just position of authority they have over another. Masters in had the power of life and death over their slaves. Beatings, imprisonment, or sale into harsher servitude were punishments masters could exercise over their servants.
But it far worse for a Christian to mistreat his workers, because it gives a false picture of God, whose authority they are also under, as a harsh an unfair master. The duty of masters, and all in authority over others, is to do good to those in submission and not to take advantage of their authority by threatening them.
The command to be just and fair is more powerful than a command for masters to be kind or pleasant to slaves. One can be kind or pleasant to animals or pets; but we are only just and fair to fellow human beings. Paul asked masters to make a recognition that would undermine the very foundations of slavery.
The Bible is clear that there is no partiality with the Lord; Romans 2:11. We see it in the anointing of kings, in 1 Samuel 16:7. We see it int he judgement of God among His people, in 2 Chronicles 19:7.
God is not a respecter of men and He will judge fairly both masters and servants. God will even judge masters for the exercise of their authority over their servants.
What does this tell us about authority?
How should we treat those whom we have authority over?
Paul is reshaping the most basic Roman institution (family) around Jesus, who rules by his self-giving love. He does not abolish the household structure, but demands that it be transformed beyond what would be viewed as normal among the Colossians. Without making an overt protest against slavery, Paul seemed to understand that if he could establish the point that slaves were equals in body of Christ, full human beings with both responsibilities and rights (that they should be treated in a manner both just and fair), then in time the whole structure of slavery in the Roman Empire would crumble – and it did.
You see, he did not simply protest the symptom of evil being exercised in the world, but he cut at the root of the evil, so as to cure the disease. By pointing us to look to Jesus, Paul is not ignoring the evil before him, but calling his hearers to see the higher value in view, and to conform our lives to it in a strikingly counter-cultural way that is more foundational that superficial.
There is much to learn here about how to address the actual evils of the world, in the ear in which we live. If we are going to walk in the character of the New Man in our relationships, then we must learn to function according to God’s design for our relationships.
What do I need to do to think more biblically about my relationships, and to plan to live accordingly?
What is your relationship with authority?
Most of you are, or will be in positions of authority over others.
How do you think about exercising that authority with justice and fairness?
What does it mean to exercise authority, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven?
All of you are, and will be in positions of submission to the authority of others over you.
How do you think about honor your human masters, precisely because they are not the real master, but Jesus is?
What does it mean to serve others, not as people pleasers, but as pleasing to the Lord?
How are we helped in this by being reminded that our reward is an inheritance in heaven?