Safe and Sound Part III
Text: Colossians 3:18 - 4:1
Proposition: As to be Safe refers to Justification, the term Sound refers to Sanctification, a process of not only putting off idolatry but putting on Christ.
Introduction: The term ‘Designer’ has become quite popular with designer jeans and designer sunglasses, we have designed homes, designed cars, we even have designed neighbourhoods and cities. Design is something we equate with efficiency and beauty and order. Unfortunately we tend to think that we are the ones who have come up with the idea of design and have missed the fact that we actually part of the design. In 1975 Benoit Mandelbrot invented the word Fractal to describe the shapes of nature that we thought were random but are actually intricate design within design. (see you tube http://youtu.be/dZM45mfJQ40 )
God is the Creator so it shouldn’t come as a great surprise to us that He uses design in everything, even in the very details of our physical existence. What may be surprising is that He also uses design in relationships. You see God is characterized by order not chaos, the very essence of Who the Triune God is proceeds from order. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit though all equal in essence and deity are structured in an order, the Son is subordinate to Father, the Holy Spirit is subordinate to Son and the Father. It is like the center fractal of all relationship, from it comes order, authority, purpose, creation, love, hope and faith. In Genesis 2:24 it says, “Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” sounds like a design within a design doesn’t it.
We’ve been talking about holiness these last weeks as we searched through the book of Colossians, particularly chapter three. We have talked about how we are made ‘Safe’ through our faith in Jesus Christ as the One who paid the debt of sin for us. Then we talked about how we are made ‘Sound’ through a process that is life long as we seek to grow in our faith as Christians. The term Sound is a metaphor for the idea of sanctification, a Biblical term that talks about being progressively set apart to God and for God. It’s what holiness is all about. What if holiness is really all about the design of God that proceeds from the original fractal of the relationship between the Trinity. In other words, holiness is part of the design or order of God that reflects the very order that exists within the Trinity. Paul has been talking about holiness in the first part of chapter three, he talks about putting off idolatry and putting on Christ-likeness. We detailed what that looked like last week, the order that needs to exist in us, the putting off of all kinds of disorder or idolatry. Now with that sense of who we as individuals ought to be, he begins to talk about relationships. The relationships he is about describe are part of the design of God, they have the same order, authority, creation, purpose, love, hope and faith in them as that which originates out from the Trinity. Have a look at Colossians 3:18- 4:1.
I. Husbands and Wives…Order, Authority, Purpose and Creation.
In the world we live in today the idea of using the word ‘Submit’ to describe any relationship is a volatile concept, we are people who have come to believe in self and independence. Is there any healthy place for the word ‘submit’ in a marriage in 2012? Before we answer that let’s recognize that Paul uses this word to describe marriages in first century Palestine, a male dominated culture. Why would he need to even reference the idea of women submitting to their husbands? To be sure the word today has a lot of baggage attached to it but it’s original use was one that depicted order not value. It was a military term that described the relationship that order was built upon…Captain to Sergeant to Corporal to Private. Is the person who is a Private any less than the person who is the Corporal? Are they any less intelligent or capable or creative than the person in rank above them? Not at all, it is not about their value, it is about an established order that has a structure of authority in it for the gaining of a purpose. For women in first century Palestine this was a step up from being treated as chattel. They now were in relationship with men who were entrusted to be the Captains of their families. The Captain has the accountability for those who serve under his authority. In Ephesians Paul had said that husbands were to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Gave Himself for her! For the first time women had men who would die for them as their husbands. The command to the husbands was to love their wives and not to be bitter towards them. In other words the husband does not have the right to do as he pleases, he carries a higher responsibility than just to serve himself. To be bitter is to exasperate or frustrate a person. Have you ever seen two people who are both trying to learn how to play tennis? The wife serves the ball over the net, it’s a gentle serve, easy to hit. The other player, the husband let’s say, has the choice of whether or not to hit the ball and just watch it bounce away or to smack it like a baseball right out of the court and then jubilantly dance over the home run. Or he could even drift if right back at her to the point where she had to duck. Or he could hit the ball back in such a way that she would be able to return it again. Husbands don’t be bitter towards your wives. There’s an interesting phrase in verse 18 that describes why wives should submit to their husbands and why husbands should not exasperate their wives, it’s the phrase, “as is fitting in the Lord ”. The design of God was to create Adam first, from Adam He then created Eve. God in His design said that it was not good for the man to be alone, the help mate that was Eve came as that which made man good, or complete. The qualities of both man and woman, unique but complimentary are what together make up the image of God in man. Genesis 1:27, “ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” It is the design of God to pattern the relationships of men and women in marriage after the pattern of the relationships of the Trinity. There is order, authority, purpose and creation. To go against the design not only misfires how it works, it is a sign of contempt for the Designer. “As is fitting in the Lord” means as that which the Lord is due, that which completes the purpose that was inherently designed in it. What’s that purpose? The purpose is to create a harmony of relationship and an environment of love and a place where faith and hope can grow but greater than even these the purpose is to proclaim that there is a designer that is greater than either of us, the designer is God, even the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why there is a place for that ‘submit’ word in 2012, through this order, authority, purpose and creation, a marriage between a man and a woman proclaims the design and the designer of all life
II. Parents and Children…Order, Authority, Purpose and Creation.
Why do you think Paul begins this section by telling children to obey their parents as the front line to what holiness in children looks like. Couldn’t he have said, “Children pray more”, or, “Children wash your hands and face everyday” or children don’t be a bully towards other kids”. It seems the idea is that all other actions and motivations arise from their obedience to their parents. The assumption is that parents will point out all these things and more because they love their kids, because they can see further in terms of consequences and because they’ve been there themselves. In essence a parent is a child’s first view of what God looks like, they define authority, perseverance, love, generosity, grace, judgment, patience and so many other attributes of God. If a child has a low view of God it’s often because they saw that first in their parents. When a child obeys their parents it is described as something that pleases God. Why would that bring God such pleasure if it wasn’t something that God designed and then saw implemented. The early relationships of children and parents picture the relationship we have with God. So the command is given to fathers (and mothers) not to exasperate their children, not to push them too hard, not to hold the bar too high, not to withhold love in order to get performance. God does not do that with us, parents don’t do that with your children because if you do they will become frustrated. What that means is that they slowly come to the conclusion that they can’t get your approval and love and they will go looking for it somewhere else. People do the same when it comes to God if they feel they have never measured up because of words they heard at church. The fractal of order, authority and purpose begins with the children.
III. Employers and Employees…Order, Authority, Purpose, Creation.
It would seem that all employees have a God ordained role of obedience and submission to their employers. The reciprocal is also true, employers are also called by God to remember that they too are people underneath God’s authority. It would seem that work is more than just a job, it too is about obedience, sincerity and the fear of the Lord. God values work to the point of including it in holiness.
Holiness begins in you, moves in marriages, it’s seen in family and in your job.