We’ve had some interesting growth in youth group over this past month. Last night at youth group, and for a few weeks in church at worship and Saturday at Great Adventure, we had 3 “biker boys”, who are now no longer “biker boys” but, “our boys”. We had 5 kids at youth group who were there because they have been using our church to play Pokemon Go. There were another 7 youth in church who didn’t come to youth group but were playing Pokemon Go, we hope they will come next week to youth group. It is an interesting season in our youth group as we start a transition team and take on a whole bunch of new advisors. It is a very exciting season as we see growth in areas that we did not expect.
So when Paul starts off this passage with the statement: “children obey your parents”, you know that this letter written to the church in Ephesus would have been read aloud and that the children in the audience would have blushed and the parents would have nodded approvingly. But it goes so much further than that today. Back in Paul’s day if a child disobeyed they could be taken out to the center square and stoned for disrespect. They certainly were not the good old days. On the other hand the advice Paul has for parents is that they should not lead their children to anger. Give them a long leash, allow them to make their own mistakes, don’t be a helicopter mom or dad who never allows their child to live and so they have all this pent up anger and rage because of it. Very practical verses here, but totally unexpected.
Also unexpected is advice for slaves and slave owners. Yes, in the first century the Romans and even Jews had slaves. Some poor uninformed people have tried to use these verses historically as proof that slavery is blessed by God. It would be the same argument if we cut off the hands and tore out the eyes of those who stole and those who lusted. It simply is not part of God’s plan. The advice is very much for that time and that place. It does not make Scripture any less authoritative, but it does make it a document that was written in a certain time and place and certainly in a specific context. But the truths of Scripture are applicable to all time.
The armor or God from vs.10-20 is a classic Scripture that I have used more times than I can remember in Sunday School assembly and in other contexts where you can play dress up and teach a lesson. The entire armor of God is to be worn, keep in mind, not just bits and pieces which suit us best. We are to put on the entire armor. Read it again and see which pieces of that armor are we less comfortable wearing.
Paul ends this letter to a church that he loves. It is a great letter and one that can be read repeatedly. Now on to Philippians, the Epistle of Joy!