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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Colossians 3:18-4:18

There are lots of things contained in Scripture that are more than a little unsettling by today’s standards. The portion of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot offers his daughters to the crowd of men outside his door isn’t embraced by any person of faith that I know of as an acceptable (or even biblical) way to calm a crowd. And the prohibition against wearing clothing of two blends in Leviticus 19:19 is certainly not observed by most of the faithful these days. Such a standard would be viewed as either impractical - or perhaps unaffordable - by many folks these days.

The opening words from today’s passage present a similar challenge for many because it speaks to relationships in ways that would seem to diminish the egalitarian values we tend to hold these days. Let me give you two examples of what I mean.

In the section directed to wives, for instance, the author says that women are to “understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.” Thankfully I haven’t been to too many weddings these days where the wife vows to submit to her husband. And in speaking to slaves/servants, the author instructs them to “do what you’re told by your earthly masters.” These words clearly validate time-bound expressions of relationships that are troubling by today’s standards.

So is there any value whatsoever embedded deeply within these words that can provide helpful guidance of any sort?

I can’t answer for you, but from my perspective the most helpful tidbit buried in the opening passage comes in the section addressed to the masters. In speaking to a group that enjoyed a disproportionate amount of societal power and privilege; the author of the passage brought them down a few pegs by noting: “Don’t forget for a minute that you, too, serve a Master – God in heaven.”

Those culminating words in a difficult section remind me of one simple truth. The quality and context of our human relationships should be informed by the fact that they are expressions of our relationship with God.

It would be easy to minimize the power of that statement, but think about it for a moment. Think about, for instance, your relationship with someone whom you think of as difficult and uncooperative. Our first instinct would be to distance ourselves from that person, right? Yet how many times might God see us being as difficult and uncooperative? And what if God took the same approach with us as we take with those who are difficult and uncooperative? Scary thought, eh.

In your interactions with others today, watch your attitudes and actions as you interact with others. Are those attitudes and actions the kind that reflects the quality of your relationship with God? If not, it might be good time to try to bring those two in line.

Til next time…

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