I'm continuing for the next couple of days in Colossians chapter 3. There is so much that can be mined from this amazing passage of Scripture and I've only found a tiny bit but I've been blown away.
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Colossians 3:18-21
The family is integral to the local church. Obviously, Jesus is the foundation that all churches must be built upon, but the family is critically important. I wouldn't say that the family is what the church is built upon, but it is central to the church. When I read the Bible I notice that the structure given for our relationships in the world is like concentric circles. God and myself in the middle; my immediate family whom I live with and I beyond that; my immediate family and my local church; my local church and my community; and so on. It's hard to be authentically good at the relationships on the outer edges of the concentric circles if we aren't doing a good job with the inner circles. If my relationship with God is not right, then my wife and I will struggle. If I can't love my family well, then I'm going to have a hard time authentically loving my church family, and so on. That being said, the closer to the center circle you get, the harder the relationship is because those people know the real you more accurately and the real you is messy.
Paul gave the church at Colosse some checks and balances for relationships in the family. Wives and husbands were given checks and balances and parents and children were given checks and balances.
For wives and husbands submission and gentle love were given as checks and balances. In the phenomenal book and video series "Love and Respect" these were explained in depth and made very clear, my wife use information from that explanation on a daily basis. Wives were told to submit because husbands respond very well to respect and very poorly to disrespect. Men have a deep need to feel respect. Husbands were told to be gentle and loving to their wives because wives respond very well to gentle love and very poorly toward harshness and unloving behavior. Do husbands need to be loved? Yes. Do wives need to be respected? Absolutely. Men are often good at giving respect, because we know how to give what we need. Conversely, women are often good at giving love, because they know how to give what they need. Paul was addressing both sexes where they need addressing.
As for this business of submitting. To many women submission it is a dirty word and I totally get it. Submission, however, is not about worth. Men and women are completely equal, they are both made in the image of God. Men and women are not the same though, we reflect God in a different manner because neither sex could ever completely reflect the nature of God, or get close. Also, I heard my pastor say this yesterday and I thought it was very good. Submission, as Paul writes about it, cannot be demanded. The tense it is in Greek doesn't allow that. Men who demand submission like Paul is asking will not get it. This type of submission comes from a woman who willingly gives it.
Parents and children were given obedience and gentleness as checks and balances for intrafamily relationships. Children are to obey their parents in everything. This is not done for the sake of the parents only, it is done because children can in this way please the Lord. Parents are to be gentle and not overbearing. The perfectionist parent is frowned upon by Paul's instructions. Parents are to be supportive, protective, loving, gentle and understanding. If a parent does these things they are much easier to obey because the child trusts them and feels safe in that love. If a child obeys it is much easier for a parent to not be overbearing and to be gentle and understanding.
The family is an important building block for the local church and for the Church universal for that matter. We must work on our family relationships so that we reflect God's glory at home. If you can't love your family well, how much has the Gospel affected your heart? It is easy to put on the hypocrite's mask in public, but acting as Christ desires at home is much harder, trust me. Love your family well and view that love as evidence of your salvation today.