Saturday, August 18, 2018

Colossians Words Day 18: Obedience

Day 18 ~ Obedience

It is not always easy to read and understand Scripture written over 2000 years ago to people living in a different time and in different cultures. This is the case with the passage where today's word, obedience, is the topic. In this passage, Colossians 3:11-4:1, Paul addresses people living within the cultural norms of the day, and so his admonitions to wives and to slaves and masters seem not to fit within today's cultural norms. The Colossians lived within two dominant cultures: The Roman culture, which had a hierarchical order, ranking every relationship in order, and the Greek culture which had a "household code" ordering both the household and the state. So, while in this new life they live as Christians who are all seen as equal (Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28), Paul recognizes that for many, they still live with those who are not Christ followers and they still have to  live within the norms of the culture. Paul encourages them to view how they live, despite having to still live within cultural norms, as those who now belong to and are in Christ. So his encouragement in 3:17 to do all things "in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through him", is then expressed to specific groups of people in the household in 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 favor, 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 favoritism.
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven."  Colossians 3:18-4:1

While today we do not live within the cultural norms Paul was writing to, we can still gain valuable insight for how we are to live within our own culture. Paul's bottom line to those living in the first century remains the same for us living in the 21st century: Obedience to the Lord. In our daily lives - in our families, our jobs, our schools, our homes, our neighborhoods and communities - we can live with Paul's encouragement as our guideline:
  • Live in a manner "as fitting to the Lord" - 3:18.
  • Do what "pleases the Lord" - 3:20.
  • Live and act "with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord" - 3:22.
  • Work (live out) "whatever you do, with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" - 3:23.
  • "It is the Lord Christ you are serving" - 3:24.
  • God is our "master (Lord) in heaven" - 4:1.

Because we are in Christ, we are God;s chosen people who are holy and dearly loved. Our response to His great love for us is willing and thankful obedience to His will and to His way of living.
"...With sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord - whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord." Colossians 3:22-23.

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