We continue with the fourth installment of our Unravelled Series and this week we are Unravelling our Identity. This “Identity” means the features or information that uniquely represents 'me'. It is who I am – my beliefs, my values and my faith! As a person saved by Christ, my identity is therefore reflective of God’s purpose and calling for me.
In this week’s passage (Ephesians 5:21-6-9), the Apostle Paul holistically reveals 3 relationships that will assist us in revealing our Identity in Christ: The Husband & Wife; Parent & Child; and Master & Slave. To help us, 3 different words can be used to unravel our identity as Believers in Christ! Interestingly, all these words have dual meanings…
1. YIELD (Ephesians 5:21-27)
“Yield” has 2 meanings. When thinking of this word, many will define it as 'Giving Way' or to 'Submit'. Yet Yield also means to 'Produce Crop'. Hence these words remind us that when we do yield to each other, we are also producing crop. The Wife & Husband portion of this passage tells us that husbands and wives should both yield in submission to one another! The wives are to submit to the husband as to the Lord and the husband should submit in sacrifice to love, even to the point of giving up his life - as Christ did for the church. After all isn’t the word “love” (agape) used in v.25 mean to love sacrificially? Hence the mutual yielding seen in this passage is termed as a Partnership of Submission! When we partner each other in submission, when we yield to each other – we produce crop!
2. BEAR (Ephesians 6:1-4)
Another word with 2 meanings! “Bear” can mean to 'Support' or 'Carry the Weight' or it can actually mean to 'Produce Fruit'. When remembering these words, we can say that when we bear the burdens of another, we actually bear fruit. Although the Fathers in the ancient world when this passage was written had powers that could lead to abuse, many would agree that the Fathers of our day have gone above and beyond their call (mentioned in this passage) to nurture and to bring children up in the training and instruction of the Lord. For that, on this week where we celebrate Fathers’ Day, we applaud you, Fathers!
Now the children are called to obey, but “Children” here could be understood to include adults, for a father in that society maintained authority in the family until his death. Hence the call is to obey and support – to bear our parents – even though we are already adults! And as we support them, we will bear fruit! Colossians 3:13 reminds us that we should, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
3. RETURN (Ephesians 6:5-9)
Finally, the word “Return” means to 'Give Back', but it can also mean To Gain' or 'Make a Profit'. Hence, when we submit everything to the Lord, or when we return everything to Christ, especially our jobs, we will have good returns for our work. Of course, slavery is foreign to most of us compared to biblical times but we can definitely identify it as modern employer-employee relations. As an employer, a manager or a leader, our roles is one that recognises that God not only loves us but loves the employee regardless of whether they are Christians or not. But perhaps that is not as easy as it sounds. Hence, the need to submit our roles to the Lord – when we return it to the Lord for guidance and His wisdom, we reap returns!
For those under employment, this passage tells us that when we work, to do it all for the Lord. We are to obey and serve to the best of our abilities regardless of who our employers are – as a service to God Himself. So, if we have the best boss in the world or even if we have the worst, our value and identity is not derived from our circumstances, but from Christ! When we return our jobs to the Lord, we will profit!
To Yield, Bear and Return. These 3 words actually draw to a single conclusion: To Submit to One Another out of Reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21)! When we willingly submit to each other in love, this describes who we are; and that Unravels our Identity as Believers in Christ bought with a price!
A Happy Belated Fathers’ Day to all the Fathers!