Week 9: Colossians 3:17-4:1
Faith in Jesus Christ transforms us. Jesus takes up the position of Lord over all of our life. And in Christ, God is reconciling all things – setting all things into a right relationship to himself and to each other. This includes our most personal relationships. There is no social structure or definition of roles that is immune to the effects of human sin. And there is none beyond the reach of Jesus Christ’s power to redeem and transform. The power is not found in having the right system or structure. The power is found in Christ who transforms the heart and enables us to live into whatever situation we find ourselves in his name, under his Lordship, and as he would do. This is the hope for the world and it is the hope for our own personal lives and relationships. So what should that look like in the context of marriage, parent-child relationships, work relationships, situations where I have responsibility over others, or situations where I am accountable to others? Let’s listen to Paul as he coaches the Colossians within their cultural setting and ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus in our day too. This week we will look at what God is accomplishing in our relationships at a general level. In the next few weeks we will explore particular relationships like husband-wife, parent-child, and workplace relationships in more detail.
Do you find it easier to live out your faith in Christ around your own family or around other people at church? Why do you think that is?
Getting into the Text:
1. (Colossians 3:18-4:1) What thoughts and feelings are stirred up in you as you read these verses? Note how many times the word Lord is used in this passage. What does it mean to allow Jesus to be Lord over our relationships?
2. (Colossians 3:12-17) Paul’s direction in Colossians 3:18-4:1 immediately follows his appeal to take off the old self, dress ourselves in the character of Christ, and do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. Why do you think Paul moves immediately from those ideas to the context of relationships in the home?
3. (Ephesians 5:1-2, 20-21) These verses lead into a very similar section of scripture focusing on personal relationships in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. What insight do these verses provide about the proper mindset for living in Christ-honoring relationships with others?
4. In Paul’s culture, men held absolute legal authority over everyone in their family and household including wives and adult children. Slavery was also a very real part of life and a significant fraction of the Colossian church may have been slaves. In fact, the book of Philemon is a letter written to a Christian in the Colossian church who had a Christian slave. Why do you think Paul focuses on how believers ought to live out their faith within this assumed cultural framework rather than critiquing the cultural and social structures themselves? How might this approach be helpful to us as we seek to follow Christ in our relationships?
How willing are you right now to allow Jesus to be the Lord over your relationships? Where do you sense that he wants to do his reconciling work in your life? Use Colossians 1:9-10 as a prayer for yourself as you seek to understand and live out God’s will in your relationships.