Question 5: What are the "relational ripples" of my life?
You may want to use the VISUAL of a unity candle for a wedding - ask what it is and what it symbolizes. While it can symbolize the centrality of Christ in marriage, today's passage makes it clear that reverence for Christ is the umbrella for healthy churches, marriages, parent-child relationships and workplaces.
- Reverence for Christ - ripples for the Church (5:21)
- "Submit" was originally a military term meaning "to arrange or rank under." Christians "rank themselves under" one another (a similar idea is described by Paul in Philippians 2:3-4). John Maxwell describes this as "relinquishing rights - we give up to go up," because the greatest in God's Kingdom is the servant of all.
- Reverence for Christ might be captured in the initials WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?), where He sets the standard and provides the example (i.e. 5:2 - "just as Christ loved us") rather than the dominating influence in our relationships being the pre-conditioning of our household of origin, comparison to others, etc.
- This reverence for Christ is first and foremost modeled in the Church - "…"Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. "Now as the church submits to Christ" (5:23-24), "…just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (25), "…just as Christ does the church" (29), "…I am talking about Christ and the church" (32).
- Reverence for Christ - ripples for husbands and wives (5:22-33)
- Wives are called upon to relate to their husbands "as to the Lord" (22) and "as the church submits to Christ" (24). It is different from the concept of "obey" - different words are used of children (6:1) and slaves (6:5) - husbands are not to treat their wives as a child or a slave! The core concept is responsiveness to the husband's leadership and needs, not based on the quality of his leadership but in a desire to reflect Christ.
- Husbands are called to a self-sacrificing love and responsiveness to his wife's needs following the example of Christ who "gave Himself up" for the church (25). This love prioritizes the marriage relationship over other important human relationships (31).
- Dr. Willard Harley's book His Needs Her Needs highlights his study related to "affair-proofing marriage" as a responsive wife and nurturing husband meet these needs:
Major Needs of Men: Major Needs of Women: Sexual fulfillment Affection Recreational companionship Conversation An attractive spouse Honesty and openness Domestic support Financial support Admiration Family commitment
It would be good for husbands and wives to discuss whether these needs are reflective of them, or if they are different how they are different. Then, in reverence to Christ, focus on meeting the needs of the other over keeping score on how their own needs are being met.
- Reverence for Christ - ripples for children and parents (6:1:4)
- Children - "…in the Lord" (1) - again, it all flows from reverence for Christ. "obey" has to do with action (6:1) and "honor" has to do with attitude (6:2).
- Parents - "…of the Lord" indicates a parenting approach that ripples from a relationship with Christ, not training based on our own experiences, personalities or ideas. "Fathers" is a term broad enough to include parents in general, and the warning is against provoking anger - in other words, the pattern of parent's treatment of their children should not over time build up a deep-seated anger and resentment that boils over in outward rage (destructive parental patterns include favoritism, perfectionism, criticism, etc.)
- Reverence for Christ - ripples for employees and employers (6:5-9)
- Employees (5-8) - "…just as you would obey Christ" (5), "…as if you were serving the Lord" (7). This extends to outward action ("obey" - being productive and responsive), but also to attitude with words such as "respect and fear" (not cowering fright but honor) and "sincerity of heart" (reinforced by "from your heart" in vs. 6 and "wholeheartedly" in vs. 7) so that worker is not hypocritical or half-hearted.
- Employers (9) - this verse reminds employers of their submission to Christ with the phrase "…He who is both their Master and yours…". The idea of "Do not threaten them…" has embedded in it the concept of "loosening" or "releasing" - in other words, using authority as little as possible (not micromanaging) and empowering (power is strictly functional and temporary).
For both employees ("slaves") and employers ("masters") the final performance review and promotion is in heaven (II Corinthians 5:10)!
In what arena of your relationships (church, home, workplace) are you currently experiencing the most joy? What does it look like for you, today, in each area, to have attitudes and actions "out of reverence for Christ?
Reflection & Action
Use the guide for either personal devotions or group discussion.
© Wayne Schmidt