One of the themes throughout the book of Colossians is the supremacy of Christ. Jesus is Lord over all things. Not just religion or church, but over all of life. “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation, for by him and through him all things were made, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth…all things were created by him and for him.” All aspects of our lives must bow to the Lordship of Jesus. Not just our religious lives but also our social, political, economic, and personal lives. Jesus demands to be completely in charge because he is over all things.
And the supremacy of Christ reminds us that as we have accepted Christ as Lord we must continue to live in him. As those raised with Christ we are caught up into a different way of living; an ethic defined by the Kingdom of God and not the Kingdoms of this world. An ethic that focuses on living as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for the sake of the world. And as participants in this new life we must put to death the old life, a life defined by the sinful nature: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, greed, anger, wrath, slander, and abusive language. We must strip off this old way of living and instead be clothed in the characteristics of Christ: compassion, kindness, meekness, humility, patience, and love. We must be clothed with traits that honor the new life we have been raised up into. It is in this way that we worship the one who raised us up into this new life; by living in a way that honors God.
At this point what Paul says next in the book is slightly surprising. Wives, submit to and love your husbands. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with respect and honor. Children, obey your parents. Fathers/Parents, treat your children with respect. Sure you need to teach them and help them grow, but do it in a way that doesn’t tear them down inside. Slaves, obey your masters and serve them as if you are serving the Lord. We know slavery is wrong, but even if you find yourself in this situation, make sure you respect your masters because your real Lord is Jesus. And Masters, respect your slaves because you also happen to be a slave of the real Lord, Jesus.
It’s surprising because we are expecting some grand way of serving the Lord. Elaborate plans to feed the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. Or a way to teach underprivileged children and help them make their lives better. All of these plans are wonderful and needed. But, Paul also wants to remind us that if Jesus isn’t Lord in our most intimate relationships, (spouse and children) then Jesus is not Lord at all. Jesus being Lord of the entire universe means that Jesus is also Lord of our marriage and our families. That means that the way we treat our spouses and the way we treat our children matters just as much, if not more, than our wonderful plans to bless the world around us.
It’s sad that far too often the way we act when we are in our homes interacting with those closest to us is not the way we would act with outsiders. We find a way to be polite and kind to the stranger, even when we don’t want to, because we don’t want to be seen as rude. And yet, we do not grant the same courtesy to our families. Why is it that we can so easily yell at our children when we would never yell at a co-worker? Why is it that we can so easily cut down our spouse when we would never make those statements to a stranger?
Ultimately, living lives of compassion, kindness, and humility begins at home. Living out the love of Christ, trying to love others as Christ would, begins at home. Because, if we are really going to put to death the sinful nature and be clothed with the characteristics of Christ it has to start in the most intimate of relationships, with the ones who share the very same walls of a house that we do.
As Christians, we must embrace the truth that Jesus is Lord. But even more so, we must live it out. And living out the Lordship of Jesus begins in the our most intimate relationships. It begins in our homes. May we recommit to loving our spouses and loving our children in a way that declares to the rest of the world that Jesus is Lord of our lives.