“And, though God may have more to say to us from each text than its human writer had in mind, God’s meaning is never less than his. So the first responsibility of the exegete is to seek to get into the human writer’s mind . . . always remembering…that the biblical writer cannot be assumed to have had before his mind the exegete’s own theological system!”
What does proper biblical interpretation have to do with Christ being lived out at home and at work? Everything. Over the past year I have been exposed to more blatant attempts to flip the Bible on its head through verbal gymnastics and exegesis origami regarding how Christ is lived at work and home than all my prior years in ministry combined. Rather than approaching the Bible as the authoritative lens through which life is evaluated, a theology based upon the current cultural sentiment is the lens through which these people have attempted to interpret the Bible. Rather than trusting that God knows what He is doing when talking about relationships at home and at work, there has been an attempt to “improve” God’s prescribed ways of having Christ lived at home and work.
A refreshingly biblical approach to living Christ was discussed at Grandview Christian Assembly on Sunday, August 7, 2011. GCA’s study of Colossians, Christ Supreme, examined how the awesome Christ of the first few chapters of Colossians is to be lived out in the world. In the sermon The New Home and Work Life, Colossians 3:18 – 4:1 were unlocked based upon what the Bible says, and not based upon pressure to conform to culture. The sermon emphasized that Christ is not to be regulated to church and personal spiritual times, but “processed” and lived out at home and work. If Christ is not lived in the settings of work and family, it is hard to say that a Christian truly has matured spiritually, no matter how much theology the person knows. There was a challenge to not simply know about Christ, or to know Christ, but to live Christ.
The following is from GCA’s Creekbed online publication by John Myer:
The Far End of the Pipe
God intends this simple principle whenever and wherever the truth of Scripture is made known to us: What goes in, must come out! Colossians presents this flow of thought, first unveiling Christ in the highest, most transcendent way. That revelation trickles into our concepts, changing the way we think of Him and His salvation. Then it trickles into our daily living where we put on the new self, and finally, after having been experienced intensely and applied deeply, comes out the far end of the pipe in a new home and work life.
The passage under consideration, Col. 3:18-4:1 (which contains no tee-shirt verses), gives the Apostle Paul’s description of what Christ looks like when released into our most personal life settings. It doesn’t get any more real than this: Christ at home with the spouse and kids. Christ at work with coworkers and bosses.
Christ All Over the Place
The criteria seems simple. Wives submit to your husbands–that is, stop the power struggles and the single-minded quest to get your way. This models the Son of God who submitted to imperfect people all during His earthly life. Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh. That models the self-sacrificial love and kindness of the Son of God who loved to the point that He died on the cross. Children obey your parents, modeling the Christ who obeyed His own earthly parents, as well as His heavenly Father. Fathers, do not discourage your children. This demonstrates the Christ who could discipline His disciples with a sharp word (telling Peter, “Get behind me, Satan”–Matt. 16:23) and then encourage them mightily (“You will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”–Matt. 19:28). There is even a way for slaves to live out Christ. Although that social institution has been outlawed (thanks to seeds planted in the New Testament), application still exists for all of us who feel forced into an exhausting workweek, making less money than we think we deserve. What should we do in such a situation? Listen to the boss and work with sincerity. Stop doing things just to be seen. Actually work when you’re at work. This models the sincerity and honesty of Christ. There is also a charge to masters, who approximate today’s bosses. They should not strut around high on themselves, wronging the people who work under them. Their fair treatment will demonstrate the Christ who is just and judges without bias, rewarding those who deserve it.
At the end of the day (and this epistle), nothing theologically profound has emerged that can match the likes of the earlier description of Christ in Colossians 1. But Paul isn’t gunning for profundity at the end of his letter. Rather, he details how we can know that a wife, a husband, a child, a father, an employee, or a boss are all in current possession of the spiritual reality of a true and living Jesus. That is something worth its weight in gold.