Equality in relationship

Ephesians 5:22-6:9 (I gave this devotion to the teachers on May 28, 2012)

Before these verses, Paul has told the Ephesians that followers of Jesus submit to one another, following Christ’s example of submission to all people. In the last devotion, I explored a little bit of what submission might look like to Paul. Often, we have interpreted submission as complete obedience to the other person, but I don’t believe this is possible within a community of believers who are mutually submissive.

In these 21 verses, Paul gives some commands to specific relationships within the culture of his time. These relationships inevitably would be a part of the community of faith. These three relationships are husband-wife, parent-child, and master-slave. Within Paul’s culture, these relationships were completely dominated by one person in the relationship. The husband, parent, and master had complete power over the other person. Women were property within the system, often treated as animals only good for childbearing. Children and slaves were given little acknowledgement as people. They were to obey all things that their parents or masters commanded. In these verses, Paul is trying to meet people who grew up with these prejudices and assumptions about life and people and help them move closer to Jesus’ vision of justice and peace. By telling husbands to love as Christ loved, parents to not provoke their children, and masters to not threaten their slaves and treat them as fellow believers, Paul is radically changing the way that these people have treated each other.  Paul’s goal is complete equality between all people within the church as seen in his other letters (Galatians 3:28), but he knows that he has to help new believers little by little as they try to learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  Similarly, we have grown up with certain prejudices and assumptions about certain relationships. Can you think of any of any of the prejudices that you can see in our school? Do we treat our students as equals? Do we treat everyone around us as our equal? Do we love our neighbours as much as we love ourselves?

Ntate Neo

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~ by randallkoehler on July 30, 2012.

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