This week was the concluding lesson in our series about real relationships. The first four weeks of our journey through the book of Ephesians and beyond, led us to the following conclusions:
- God loves everyone – even if they are not a part of his family.
- God breaks down barriers to relationships through Jesus
- The definition of love is the giving of one’s own life in order that someone else might live.
- As new creations in Jesus we are to be truthful, loving, compassionate and forgiving in all of our relationships.
For the final week, we are following Paul’s lead and looking at our most significant relationships and asking, “How does all of this play itself out in these relationships?”
Q: What are the 3 most significant relationships in your life (either with individuals like your spouse, or in a genearal category like friendships, work aquaintances, etc.)?
We began the lesson by reading Ephesians 5:15-21. Paul describes the foundational principles for how are are to live as Christians. He calles us to be:
- filled with the Spirit
- encouraging to others in their faith
- while praising and thanking God for everything
- and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
These attributes define the Christian attitude in living, and they should be carried into our relationships and lived out in ways that honor the other person and glorify God. Imagine for a second what it would be like if everyone you know lived this way.
Q: How would our relationships be different?
Paul then takes these principles and applies them to 3 of the more central relationships in his society, the husband/wife relationship, the father/son relationship, and the master/slave relationship. As the Christian ethic of putting others before ourself is worked out in each of the relationships, Paul offers a radically different take on what it means to be a husband or a wife, a parent or a child and a master or a slave. Each person is lifted up as a person of value and of worth and each person is called to care for the other in the relationship in ways that lay down their own personal agenda. As Christians, no matter the relationship, Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourself and the call of God to think of others as more important than ourselves must be lived out. It is the example set by Christ – not only when he died on the cross, but when he touched the lepers to make them well, risked his personal reputation to sit with tax collectors and prostitutes, confronted Pharisees about their sin, crossed racial and gender lines to speak into the life of the woman at the well, and stooped down as a servant to wash his disciples feet.
Remember those 3 relationships that you listed above? How can you live in relationship to those people in a way that is wise and filled with the Spirit, encouraging to their faith and praising God, and giving up of yourself and your own rights so that they might have life?