Relationships in Christ

Ephesians 5:18-6:9

Paul continues his applications of his teaching about the reconciliation we have in the church by speaking into how we live out different relationships in life in light of this truth.

He starts by speaking about our relationship with the Holy Spirit. In contrast with those who get drunk with wine, we should continually be filled with the Spirit and under his influence. As we are filled with him, this will find expression in our congregational worship and singing, our thankfulness and our willingness to lay down our own preferences and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Having already expressed the general principle that we should all submit to one another, he then speaks into three particular relationships. The first of these is marriage. The model of marriage is Christ and the church, and just as Christ chose to put the good of the church above his own and lay down his life for her, so the husband should do likewise. In a similar way, as the church puts Christ first, so a wife should put her husband over herself. As a marriage is lived out with both partners putting the other first, the profound mystery of Christ and the church is put on display for the world to see.

The next relationship is parents and children. Kids are instructed to obey their parents, and Fathers to not provoke their children. Written into a culture where a Father could dominate a household, this call to gentle, loving and respectful leadership is counter-cultural, as is the willing obedience of the children to their parents.

Finally, instructions are given to slaves and masters. This is by no means an endorsement of slavery, but simply a recognition that it existed and an attempt to apply God’s truth into this context. Though the circumstances are not the same, the principles here do have some application to a workplace setting for employees and employers. The instruction to both is the same, to treat each other as they would treat Christ, to work hard, not to threaten, and to look to Christ for the reward for whatever good is done.

Some Key Points:

  • Christians should go on being filled with the Spirit and express this in gathered worship through song and thanksgiving.
  • Being filled with the Spirit also leads us to submit to one another in the body of Christ.
  • This mutual submission is worked out in particular ways in different relationships, including marriage relationships, parent-child relationships and master-slave relationships.

Potential Applications:

  • Pray For People to Be Filled With the Spirit – As the passage makes clear, being filled with the Spirit is not something that only happens to us once but is an ongoing thing. Pray for people to be filled with the Spirit.
  • Relationships Realignment – In the relationships discussed here (or perhaps other relationships), there may be people in the congregation who are not living out the gentle mutual submission discussed here. This would be a good moment to challenge them and invite repentance and change.