Part 3 in the serie “Imitators of God”
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Colossians 3:18-25, 4:1 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. 4:1 Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
Last week Ephesians. Today from Colossians. Very similar in content. Some practical wisdom.
1. Passages like these often are offensive to our modern minds.
It appears to us as though the Bible does not like women and is supporting slavery. This does not go well with modern ideas about gender- and social equality!
Very often people will conclude that these are cultural aspects of the Bible no longer valid for today and hence dismiss the whole passage all together!
The result is we end up picking and choosing our favorite parts of the Bible and cutting out everything we don’t like. In the end what we’re left with is not the word of God, but our own word “with some major contributions of God”. That is not how we want to treat the Bible, is it?
Of course the Bible is a book with a culture, it is not written in a cultural vacuum. But the Bible is also Universal Truth and gives us godly principles to live by.
Before we assume that it anything is “cultural”, we should first carefully examen if something really is cultural or perhaps a biblical principle.
Because when you study the Bible carefully, you will see that it is actually very anti-cultural in regards to women and slaves!
Sometimes the Bible does leave a (cultural) injustice for what it is (e.g. slavery), unmentioned, etc.
And we might conclude that the Bible supports the injustice, but on a closer look there maybe something else.
1. Society’s utmost need is not a social reformation, but a spiritual reformation.
Yes, social justice is very important according to the Bible, and we should stand up against injustice.
But injustice is a symptom that is caused by something else.
Our deepest problem are not outward conditions, but our inward heart-condition.
A lot of injustice is not caused because there are not enough rules, but because people are wicked inside.
Instead of treating the symptoms, Jesus came to treat the cause!
2. Sometimes the Bible leaves injustice unspoken, because it has a different priority
Jesus students thought that Jesus was going to deliver them from Roman occupation (=injustice) and restore a powerful kingdom of Israel.
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)
Priority = the Kingdom of God!
3. The Bible does not always deal with the circumstances, to show us that God is never limited in His power and his grace is sufficient
2 Tim. 2 “I am suffering [for the gospel], bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!”
2 Cor. 12 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When we come to a place where we realize that there is nothing we can do change our situation, our only option is to trust in God and his salvation.
God is not afraid to allow circumstances to happen that will put our faith, our trust, in Him to the test!
When Jesus was at his weakest, when He was crucified, and His only option was to trust in God, God was strong and saved the world!
2. “Rules for christian households”
When Paul writes all these things to this church, about wives, husbands, kids, slaves, masters…he is not trusting in the power of social behavior
“If everyone would be a little nicer to one another, the world would be a different place”
No, Paul is trusting in the power and the grace of God to change us from the inside out.
1. He is giving us a heavenly perspective of life instead of an earthly one.
eye-service, people pleasers = earthly focus, outward, visible
sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord, wholeheartedly, not for men = heavenly focus, inward, invisible
2. Everyone has got his own responsibility towards God
Wives submit. Husband do not MAKE their wives submit!
Very often we want the other person to change, they cause all our trouble.
But the Bible makes it clear that we ourselves are as much part of the problem as other people and we need to change as much as everyone else.
3. Our happiness ultimately does not depend upon circumstances or how other people treat us
Of course they affect us! That is even made clear in the Bible!
But we should never depend upon circumstances or people to make us happy and fulfill our needs.
Humans will always make mistakes and hurt us. And since we’re also human, we will also make mistakes and hurt others!
Only God is perfect and perfectly reliable!
Written to household (oikos), but what is in it for students?
1. Perspective – Reality is bigger than our circumstances, more than we can see
2. Priorities – what is most important?
3. Motivation – why are you doing this? what moves you?
4. Attitude – for whom are you doing this?