Summary: Apart from God, we are left to a cycle of chaos and control. Christ comes to reclaim and restore the divine nature of love… which is an inner voluntary life of serving others. Paul applies this to the roles in marriage, parenting, and work.
Freedom from Control
Series: The Liberated Life (Colossians)
Brad Bailey – June 7, 2009
Theme: Apart from God, we are left to a cycle of chaos and control. Christ comes to reclaim and restore the divine nature of love… which is an inner voluntary life of serving others. Paul applies this to the roles in marriage, parenting, and work.
Let me begin by asking: ‘How effective is it to try and control other people?’
How well does trying to control others work?
Not very well?
Remember hearing of a little boy who finally sat down after first resisting his parents’ command to do so. He said to his parents, "I’m sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside."
If we stand back… I think the nature of control becomes even clearer. In fact I believe the whole of human history… the human drama… could be defined as a cycle of chaos and control.
Our human history is a story of two forces that rise up to take advantage of the chaos… those which rule by force… and become solidified into empires such as Rome was at the time… and those who which rule by claiming the authority of God… such as the religious leaders which Paul had been such a passionate part of.
And of course sometimes these two forces collude together… states will co-opt religion and religion will partner with the force of the state.
(I believe that when President Obama stood just three days ago in the Muslim world to address the sensitive relationships that are in such great tension… he was speaking into this cycle.)
It is a cycle because if we look at the history of controlling states collapsing… from Ceasar to Hitler to more recent communism… we see chaos follows… and out of chaos comes the acceptance of greater and greater outside control.
Into this cycle… God has come to restore an order that transcends personal control. The divine order has overcome the powers of his world. This is the liberated life that the apostle Paul declares as he writes to the community that gathered in Colossi… a written work we refer one of the Book of Colossians.
Christ is the supreme revealer of God… and Redeemer of all… who has come to reclaim and restore the human order… in whose resurrected life we now have a new humanity which already exists in his eternal position… and which we now can seek to have live in us.
In the last section, Paul addressing the community in how it as a community is to live out and embody a new way of life realized in Christ… and concludes stating that whatever you do… do it in the name of Christ. This means in the nature and power of Christ.
Now he moves forward with just such application.
Colossians 3:18-4:1 (NIV)
18 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 embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. 1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
There is a lot here to be challenged by.
For some… words like ‘submit’ and ‘obey’ can sound a bit oppressive. We’ll certainly need to consider what is really being implied or prescribed in it’s totality.
When he begins with ‘wives submit..’ we know this isn’t going to be easy… and by the time he is done… everyone seems challenged in their posture. We all read some part… and think yea… and then hit that one that describes our role and go ‘WHOOOOA… who’s laying this trip on me?’
Three pairs of relationships… each side of the pair is spoken to… and called to a responsibility to relate in a way that reflects the love he had just been discussing we should take on.
Three general truths about the new way of life…
1. Our new life in Christ sets a new posture for the roles and relationships of life.
‘Putting the life of the new age into practice begins at home.’ (NT Wright)