“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”- Ephesians 6:12.
Shortly before this, in the same chapter, he told children to obey their parents, fathers to not exasperate their kids, slaves to obey their masters (and to work as unto the Lord) and for masters to treat their slaves as they might Jesus. Paul’s letter here is to “God’s holy people at Ephesus.” This matters immensely because his audience would only be comprised of believers (or at least those who would call themselves that).
Let’s combine all of this…
- “Christian kids, obey your parents. When they act unreasonable and in unchristian ways, remember, your battle is not against them. God’s still making them His.”
- “Christian parents, don’t be total (or even partial) jackwagons to your kids. Love them and treat them with respect. There is a war going on within them as God works on them.”
- “Christian slaves, serve your masters as you’d serve God. You must love them as God has loved you, even when they don’t deserve it because God is watching, and sees, all.”
- “Christian masters, treat your slaves as you’d treat God. God’s not partial in his treatment of man, and He’s watching.”
Certainly, this text offends 21st Century man. But…that doesn’t make it irrelevant, less truthful, or not timely. Why? In 1 Corinthians 2:2, he’d write this gem, “For I resolved to to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Paul wasn’t fighting a culture war, he was telling people about Jesus.
Over the past 24 hours, parts of an interview with Phil Robertson from GQ has been leaked. Surely every person that might read this post is familiar with this, if not, look it up. In response, A&E has placed Phil on hiatus. Then…”christians” went to work; here’s what I’ve observed: many Christians seem quick to fight this battle as though we are battling flesh and blood: boycotts, open-letters, Facebook statuses and Tweets galore.
When we fight this way, we simply do not honor Christ.
Some will be quick to defend themselves…
“What about freedom of speech?” Paul warns against this attitude in 1 Corinthians 6. The Christian should choose to be wronged. Yep, we live in a country where we have rights. We should honor that. Live within it. But, America is not the Promised Land and our Constitution is not God’s Word.
“This is persecution!” Paul wrote his letters at a time of strong persecution. The kind that found one beaten with rods, stoned and cast outside the city gates because they think they’ve killed you, where one might end up covered in oil, impaled on a stick and set alight so someone might enjoy their garden at night.
Here’s the deal, neither the truth nor the gospel of Christ is so weak that they need your open-letter. When we act out of the flesh, not only do we fail to live up to our calling, we cause God’s word to be maligned. It’s not love. It’s not grace. And it’s not obedience.