For our message today on this Family Worship Sunday, we are going to build a house. And that’s because our scripture passage today is in many ways about the family.
Throughout this fall, we as a church have been studying the little New Testament book of Colossians and in recent weeks, the apostle Paul, the author of this book has been teaching this young and growing church what it looks like to live a life worthy of the Lord and to please him in every way.
And to do this, he addresses various aspects of our lives. Where in previous weeks Paul has been describing what it looks like to live a life worthy of the Lord in our relationships within the church community, next week he’ll shift to our relationships with the unbelieving, outside community, and for today, in between, Paul describes what it looks like to live a life worthy of the Lord as the family.
And since families live in homes, today we’re going to build a house.
And so, If you don’t already have your bibles open, I want to invite you all to open your bibles up to Colossians 3 on pg. 1679.
A couple important notes up front here: Not all families look the same and your family might look different than the one I’m about to describe. For example, kids, my dad died when I was in 4th grade. My house felt incomplete at times. What’s beautiful about the church as the family of God is that we have the capacity to fill the gaps of what others don’t have.
In addition, if you’re all grown up or live by yourself or don’t have a family of your own, hang in there, there’s something in here for you too.
Alright, let’s build this house …
Last week, Bill Knox gave a wonderful sermon on Colossians 3:12-17 and we had Celia read that scripture again today because it serves as the firm Jesus-y foundation of the house we are about to build. Every house, every family needs a firm foundation, and for us as followers of Jesus, Jesus himself is our firm foundation.
Or as Paul says, put on “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience” “love binds it all together in perfect unity” “let the message of Christ dwell in you richly.” “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
And with Jesus as the Lord of our house, we now turn our attention to specific family members themselves.
We’ll begin by putting up the first two walls, as Paul addresses wives and husbands beginning in verse 18.
And kids, teenagers, I need your help here. I want you to turn to one of your parents and say to them, “Listen up!” on the count of three, 1, 2, 3 …”Listen up!”
Kids, while I’m talking to your parents, fill out your worship notes, on the back draw your own home.
Parents, I’ll just warn you now, some of these words are a little spicy for our modern ears. And friends, please trust me when I say, it’s going to be okay, for the same God who inspired last week’s inspiring scripture inspired these words too.
Paul says, “18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
To submit is to follow someone’s leadership. And in a very real sense, we all, men and women alike, submit to Jesus and are called to follow the leadership of Jesus. And men and women alike are called to submit to each other in all sorts of good and beautiful ways.
Here Paul says, Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands. That’s a little spicy, is it not?
Notice the submission here is volunteered by the wives, not forced by the husbands. In addition, these are not instructions for women and men or between boys and girls, no, this is specific to husbands and wives.
Or as one author once put it, you know that phrase “don’t try this at home.” Well, this is just the opposite, “only try this at home.”
Even still, many of us might find these words offensive, and many of us might be shocked to find these words in the bible, much less read aloud in church.
And yet, here’s what’s even more shocking. When the Colossians, when these early Christians first heard these words from Paul, the women cheered and the men booed.
It’s true! The women cheered and the men booed. And that’s because of what Paul says next …
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
It was a time and culture where men were free to live as they pleased, where men were rather uncommitted in their marital commitment, and for Paul to say,
Husbands, love your wives was wildly countercultural.
And the word that Paul uses for love here is significant. Paul could have used a word for love that describes a friendship kind of love. Or he could have used a word that meant a romantic kind of love, which would have probably made the most sense.
But no, instead he uses the Greek word agape. A lay it on the line, a costly, a humble, a “for you” kind of love.
And so wives, do you see what this means? It means that submission should never be a husband selfishly saying to his wife, “I’ll do what I want to do” or “do what I tell you.” because a husband should be first and foremost “for you.” Under God, for you.
Which means yes, there are indeed instances where love is so absent that submission is not warranted, because it would no longer be fitting in the Lord.
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands. Husbands, love your wives.
Even still, to all of this, wives and husbands alike may look at each other and think to themselves, “Ok, Daniel, that’s better, I guess, but I still don’t like it. And even if I did, how would this even play out within a marriage or within a home?”
Well, let me test something out with you by introducing another word into the mix.
And that’s the word, let’s. That’s right, let’s.
Pastor John Piper says that husbands should lead the way in saying the word let’s within their home.
For example, it could sound something like husbands saying, “Let’s go on a date” or “let’s go to church as a family” or “let’s pray before we go to bed” or “let’s serve together.” Let’s, let’s, let’s, let’s, let’s.
This past spring Callie and I and 11 other younger couples from our church gathered together for 8 weeks to encourage one another and strengthen our marriages and I wanted to test out an idea.
And so, through an anonymous survey, we asked couples to respond to this prompt, from strongly disagree to strongly agree; “Would it be good for your marriage if your husband said let’s more often?”
Of the 12 wives, 9 of them strongly agreed that it would be good for their marriage if their husband said let’s more often. And not one of them disagreed.
Husbands, I want to encourage you, sometime in the week ahead, ask your wives, “Would it be good for our marriage if I said “let’s” more often?” And if so, how would you want me to finish that sentence?” And then love her by listening.
You see friends, let’s, I think, is one place where love and submission meet. Husbands leading in love in such a way that wives want to follow.
And so, if your marriage is anything like mine, husbands, let’s say “let’s” more often.
You see, it’s love once again that binds this marriage relationship together in perfect unity.
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands. Husbands, love your wives.
Alright, whew! Parents, you can take a breather, because kids, Paul’s next words are for you.
And so grownups, I want you to turn to a kid next to you, and say to them, “Listen up!” on the count of three, 1, 2, 3 …”Listen up!”
And kids, in a different way, these next words are a little spicy as well. For Paul says,
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Kids, are you feeling the spicy-ness? Obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Kids, I want you to give me an “Oh c’mon!” Let me hear you!
I know, I know. Being told to obey your parents probably wasn’t what you wanted to hear today. But here it is.
And as a way of making things interesting, kids, I’ve got a question for you, I’d love to hear from you, “What is an example of something that your parents sometimes ask you to do that you don’t want to do?
Anyone want to raise their hand? Kids, my only request is that what you say is both kind and true. Nevertheless, parents, buckle up, it might get a little spicy in here … (kids share)
Alright, in all of that, kids, I want you to consider why your parents sometimes ask you to do things you don’t want to do.
My guess is it’s not because they don’t like you or because they want to keep good things from you. Rather, they ask things of you (okay, sometimes, tell you to do something) because they want what’s best for you. Because they want to keep you from harm’s way. Because they love you.
20 Children, (ahem, teenagers too) obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
It pleases the Lord when you listen and obey. And that’s because obeying your parents is sort of like obeying the Lord.
That the one who made you, provides for you, knows you, knows more than you, loves you, so trust them, listen to them, obey them. That’s true of your parents, that’s true of God too.
Alright, whew! Kids, you can take a deep breath, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because oh my goodness, how the tables have turned once again, Paul’s next words are for your parents.
And so kids, I want you to turn to one of your parents next to you, and say to them, “Listen up!” on the count of three, 1, 2, 3 …”Listen up!”
21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
This one might be spicy as well. For we might wonder, “Paul, why just fathers here, how about mothers?” Well, notice the footnote at the bottom of the page. We can understand these instructions for all parents, mothers and fathers alike.
In fact, mothers, if you feel slighted and are wondering if Paul thinks you’re the less important parent of the two, think of it this way.
I think Paul singles out fathers here because they are the more likely parent to embitter their children and make them discouraged. And dads, we need to own that. Sometimes we fathers, through the tone of our words or our words themselves chip away and nag at our kids that leaves kids dying by a thousand paper cuts. “Hey, you didn’t do this right … you could have done this better … you should try your best next time … “ Where criticism is all too common, and encouragement all too rare.
Fathers, mothers, parents, as followers of Jesus, with Jesus as our foundation, with Jesus as the Lord of our house, may that not be so with us.
“...do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
A number of us fathers are meeting weekly to discuss the book, “Disciplines of a Godly Man,” and there was a chapter on fatherhood (and this applies to motherhood too) that left me with an illustration on parenting that I’ll never ever forget.
And that is to parent your children in the same way that you would hold a bar of soap. Gentle, yet firm. Too gentle and that soap will slip right out of your hands. And yet too tight, and it will shoot out faster than a frog can jump.
Parents, parent your children like you’d hold a bar of soap. Gentle, yet firm.
Figure out what hills are worth dying on and which ones aren’t. For every criticism, work in a dozen words of love and encouragement in between. Whenever possible, give your kids the “why,” the reason why you are telling them to do something, and yet kids, obey your parents, even if they don’t tell you why.
Parents, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Alright, let’s finish with this.
With all of this, we’ve got to top it with love. Do you remember the illustration that Bill Knox used last Sunday during his message? He compared love to hot fudge on an Ice Cream Sundae, it takes something that is good and makes things better and binds it all together in perfect unity. So cover it all with love.
And in doing so, love takes a scripture passage that feels rather spicy, and makes it all so sweet.
This is what it looks like to live a life worthy of the Lord as a family, pleasing him in every way.
This is what it looks like when Jesus is the Lord of your house.
Let’s stand and sing to the Lord of our house … “I love you, Lord” and may it be a sweet, sweet sound in his ear …