Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Our Identity in Christ: Life at Home

My Life Group lesson for May 14, 2017, using Lifeway’s “Bible Studies for Life” curriculum, as well as help from Bible Gateway, Lynn Pryor and Adrian Rogers.

FIRST THOUGHTS

Happy Mother’s Day!

For Wizard of Oz fans, what makes your home so special that you’d kill a wicked witch to get ruby red slippers to click them and go home?

For most people, that single word can generate a good feeling—a sense of comfort, security, and even longing.

As Christians, home is where our identity in Christ is clearly lived out.

Whatever your situation looks like at this stage of life, Jesus wants you to be the best member of your family that you can possibly be.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

*** We continue our study of our identities as believers in Christ.

*** Paul discussed God’s design for family relationships in Ephesians 5:22–6:3. We’ll be focusing on the verses about husbands and wives.

*** Our identity in Christ can be seen in a home environment of Christ-centered love, submission, and obedience.

Ephesians 5:22-24

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

*** Oh dear, do we have to go here?

--- As a guy I start to get the nervous sweats while reading these verses among women.

--- How many Christians react to these verses with an internal voice screaming: “Warning! Step away from this grenade!”

--- Our modern society laughs at these verses, or react with horror.

--- So many who are wary of Christianity think “The Handmaid’s Tale” is more than a book and TV series and is coming true. (Totalitarian theocracy overthrows the U.S. government and women are subjugated to be uneducated baby-makers.)

*** The reality.

--- God intends these verses an invitation to a blessing.

--- It’s part of the mutual submission taught in verse 21 that states to “submit to one another.”

--- Just as God has blessed the church with Christ as its Leader, God wants to bless every family with a leader.

--- For families with a husband in the home, God has assigned him to be the leader.

--- Submission isn’t a natural behavior for us. It’s never easy, but it is expected.

--- Wives who willingly submit to their husbands are entrusting their marriage to God.

--- That doesn’t mean the wife places her faith in her husband; rather, she places her faith in Jesus to lead her husband.

--- She chooses to believe God will lead her and her family through him as he seeks the Lord’s guidance.

--- In the same way, submission does not mean silence.

(I rely on my wife as a source of wisdom and a sounding board for what I am thinking. I look forward to her opinion and greatly value her thoughts and insights. I married an amazing woman, and I would be a fool not to listen to her advice. And a dead man.)

--- Part of why submission has been so distorted is because there are men who have used the word as a weapon to club their wives rather than as a hammer to build their homes.

--- Let’s be clear: To submit “in everything” doesn’t include things that are wrong.

--- God never expects a wife to be complicit in sin. If the husband’s desires, choices, or demands are wrong, it’s the wife’s duty first and foremost to be obedient to Christ.

--- In this way, submission is never a passive action. It’s a choice to live a life of obedience to Christ.

*** Question –What do these verses mean to you as a Christian woman? A Christian man?

Ephesians 5:25-28

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

*** Your turn, men.

--- Dudes, if you thought the previous verses were awesome, now here’s the second part of that.

--- This is not a one-sided submission.

--- Most marriages need two funerals and one wedding where both the husband and the wife die to themselves and come alive to Jesus Christ.

--- When a man loves his wife passionately, there’s nothing too precious for that man to give up for his wife, except his relationship to Almighty God.

--- When there’s that kind of love shown to a woman, the topic of submission would not be an issue.

--- The husband, if he loves his wife as Christ loves the church, is going to love her sacrificially. He is going to love her in such a way that he would be willing to lay down his life for her. He’s going to protect her. He’s going to provide for her. He’s going to do what he can to strive for holiness in his family for the Lord’s use.

--- Most women don’t mind submitting to a man who loves her enough to die for her and shows it by the way he lives for her. (Adrian Rogers)

--- Becoming a husband was easy. However, becoming a godly husband has been the greatest challenge of my life. (And I’ll be clear up front: I haven’t always been a godly husband. My wife has endured my selfishness and has seen the very worst of me.)

--- In the family, men have been given the role of leader.

(Speaking as a guy, a husband and a father, many many times I would be happy not to have to lead anything and to spend all day in a man cave hiding from adulthood.)

--- Any man who desires to become the husband God wants him to be needs to study and imitate the life of Jesus.

--- Ultimately, this is submission to Christ, because the husband is placing the needs of another before his own.

Ephesians 6:1-3

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”— which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

*** Because I said so!

What are some of the pearls of wisdom you give to your children most often?

--- Every time you set down the rules for your children you inevitably get hit with one word: “Why?”

--- We become our parents and reply, “Because I said so!”

--- Good communication is a big part of effective parenting, but in the end children have a responsibility to obey what their parents say.

--- Children obeying parents reflects God’s design for the family. As parents led with proper authority, children will find themselves blessed by yielding to that authority.

*** This goes for us, too.

--- Honor your father and mother recalls Exodus 20:12. This was the first commandment with a promise. Honoring one’s parents would bring blessing to those who practiced it.

--- Just because we’re all grown up and trying out this adulting thing it doesn’t mean these verses don’t apply anymore.

--- Our relationship has changed with our parents, but we are still told to honor them.

--- Verse 3 makes it clear that there are benefits to a honorable relationship: “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

--- This has less to do with whether you think you should honor your parents with a phone call once a month, but our attitude toward our parents.

--- It’s seen in what we do when we’re with them—how we talk to them or respond to their advice, and how we talk about them.

--- Paul reminded us that God will bless us when we honor our parents.

--- Regardless of our age, we are all children, and have opportunity to serve and honor our parents every day.

--- The older those of us in our class get, the more we find out that we’ll be caring for our aging parents. Some may view this task as a burden, but others see it as a great privilege. Some parents are better equipped financially to care for their own needs; others require the support of their children. Some require long-term medical care; others do not. Whatever the situation, we should ask the Lord how we can best honor our parents in their old age.

--- Honoring one’s parents was a command that applied to children of any age and to parents of any age.

--- Christ is the foundation of a strong home.

QUESTION - How do these verses apply to your current situation?

REVIEW AND TAKE-AWAY POINTS

If you were like me, on the weekends you would always tune in to listen to the top 40 music countdown with Casey Kasem.

One of the features every show was the long-distance dedication. It was always a sappy letter from a listener talking about someone they loved and admired, and Kasem would play a song after.

If you could send out a long-distance dedication, to whom would it be and what song?

--- Our identity in Christ defines us and helps us to understand our family roles.

As we seek to live out our identity in Christ, we cannot do so by simply being a husband, wife, parent, or child.

We do it as followers of Jesus—and we live out our submission to Christ in how we live at home.

How will you live out your identity in Christ at home in the days to come? Consider these suggestions to get started:

*** Submission. Begin each morning by actively and intentionally submitting to Christ. Verbally acknowledge Him as your Lord and Master.

*** Love. Be on the lookout for an opportunity to demonstrate self-sacrificial love to someone important in your life—your spouse, your friend, your neighbor, and so on. Express your love both verbally and through action.

*** There certainly is no place like home. It’s likely the place where you feel most comfortable—most like your true self. For that reason, make sure your home reflects your identity as a disciple of Jesus.

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