Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting Relationships in Order
Preacher: Tony Hunter
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Colossians 3:18-4:1 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Following Jesus, knowing Jesus, and accepting Jesus changes the way we interact with each other, and only for the better.
We return today one final time to this passage in the English Standard Version. I wonder, if you had to share this message whether this is how you would have written it. Or would have chosen a different approach? Personally, reflecting on the style of Paul, I would not expect anything less from him. Think about his context for a moment, and remind yourself that people were discovering Jesus as their Savior for themselves every day. They were confessing His name, becoming disciples, and actively seeking out ways to live in the footsteps of the Rabbi from Narareth. Their world was turned upside down as they discovered more about how the God of the universe risked everything and came to earth as a baby to dwell among us. That story, that Gospel, was capturing the hearts not only of the intelligentsia but also of the downtrodden. It captured the hearts of the rich and the poor, the free and the slave, the employee and the boss, the men and the women, the children and the grandparents. All generations, all people, all ethnicities—as the Gospel knows no boundaries. It is, in fact, free to go everywhere to make everyone free.
With freedom comes . . . tension!
The idea that we all sit equal in the eyes of God together can be disconcerting to those inside and outside the tribe. That’s why Paul, under the influence of the Spirit, desiring nothing more than for us to see Jesus more clearly, has to help us know how to live our lives in Christ. He does not get into the nitty-gritty inner working details but simply states a new reality. The three areas in his world where social tensions were most evident were among the three groups who were treated most poorly—women, children, and slaves. The message is not as heavily aimed at them to submit and obey as it is to their husbands, fathers, or masters—who, in the name of Jesus, are asked to love, encourage, and treat others with justice. That is the way of Jesus!
Recalibrate: What message did you think was for someone else but turned out to be for you?
Respond: Thank Jesus for His patience with you.
Research: Read one of the suggested commentaries on this passage.
Remember: “In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
With your little one, celebrate all the things that they are learning to do. They may be learning to feed themselves, or learning to crawl, walk, or catch. Learning begins with wanting to do something different and sticking with trying to do that thing. Jesus’ disciples learned to live love alongside Jesus. Paul learned to live love alongside the people of the early church. Your little one will learn to live love alongside you. Celebrate that love lives in your heart. It is a gift from Jesus and no one can take that from you. Share it and that love gets bigger and bigger.
I like the word “we.” “We the kids” or “we the people” or “we the children of God.” I like the word “we” because it is about you and me together. I like it even more when I think about Jesus. Jesus and me as a “we.” We can do all things in Jesus’ name because He is with us and that means that me is a we. We are never alone. When someone is being mean to me, we—Jesus and me—can choose to treat that person as the royal prince or princess that we talked about earlier in the week. We can show what love looks like and sounds like by being lovely to those who are not lovely to us. This is how we play, in Jesus’ name.
When I was growing up, my parents had a list of chores that I had to do every weekend before I could go out and play. Most of the time it included cleaning my room, taking out the garbage, or scrubbing the toilets. After a few years, I had outgrown those chores and my parents put me in charge of bigger things, like making dinner or picking up my brother from school and making sure he did his homework. Once you are given tasks over other people, it is easy to feel a sense of power over that person.
“Mom says you have to listen to me and do whatever I say,” I would tell my brother.
Which, of course, wasn’t true at all. But having that influential power over him made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted. That was until my mom got home and I had to give a report to her. And then came the problems with power and the lesson of how to learn how to manage the power I was given.
Paul talks about this in verse Colossians 4:1 when he tells masters (people with power over other people) to “treat your slaves justly and fairly, for youi know that also have a Master in heaven.” Here, Paul tells the masters to learn the lesson about power now before they have to learn it from their Master when the people they have power over get a report to God about how they were treated.
Is there anything or anyone you have power over? How do you use that power for good? How might you be using it in the wrong ways? How might God be asking you to take the power you have and use it the way God would want you to use it?
Looking at the past guidelines for the household, God set up structures for relationships in which He sees them working best as He wants the best for us. He is relational and created relational beings in His image. He wants us to be united in love and to treat everyone with respect and sincerity. He wants the home to be safe and to foster the most encouragement and love possible.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.