Ephesians 5:22-6:9, Genesis 2:4-25, Matthew 19:13-15, Colossians 3:23-24
It was a proper response from my wife when I told her I was writing on Ephesians 5. I followed her lead and rolled my eyes. I know why she laughed. And she knew precisely why I rolled my eyes as I moved quickly away to my writing nook.
This series of passages often gets abused in the church. There isn’t really a better way to say it. In some cases, it has made tyrants out of men. We may read the entirety of Ephesians and come to a screeching halt at the words “submit” and “slave.” Sometimes when reading Scripture we are tempted to scrap the big picture for a small one. Today, let’s make sure we have the bigger picture in focus first.
Up to this point, Paul has built a simple yet beautiful theology around the ascended Jesus. It is in the ascended Jesus that we find our truest identity. In other words, we see what it is to be fully human as God desires us to be fully human. We see our calling, our destiny, and our glory all summed up in the reality that Jesus is seated on the throne in heaven at the Father’s right hand (Revelation 3:21). A better way to say it is this: in Jesus, heaven and earth are in their fullness.
The problem is that we don’t see the ascended Lord. This reality is hidden from our eyes. It is hidden from the world’s eyes. So, as we remind ourselves of Christ’s prayer to the Father, we have that one little phrase, “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
How will people know that Christ and the Father are one? How will they know the depths of that beautiful relationship? The Church, and how it manifests its life in the most basic of relationships, points us to the oneness of God the Father and the Son (Ephesians 1:22-23). Paul isn’t giving instructions to the Church so that its members will live out some strict moral code. No, Paul is instructing the Church how to embody, in the power of the Spirit, the marvelous relationship between the Father and the Son. He is inviting them into the divine life of the ascended Lord and to reveal that life to the world around them.
Everything Paul asks of his hearers is rooted in the nature of Christ: Submit. Love. Obey. The ascended Lord is revealed to the world when we— all of us— submit ourselves to one another in Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
These texts are rich and beautiful. They take the most simple of relationships and form them into the light of Christ. In embracing their true meaning, we begin to get a glimpse into the Lord’s prayer for us: on earth as it is in heaven.
written by Father Aaron Wright