Good Relations (12-05-21)
Good Relations (12-05-21)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:1-9
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honour your father and mother", which is the first commandment with a promise, "so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.
We recently watched the film ‘Peterloo’, a film about the massacre at St Peter’s Field in Manchester in August 1819. This was against the backdrop of the Corn Laws, which protected the income of wealthy landowners while forcing up the price of wheat beyond what the poor could afford, and of political unrest which was demanding parliamentary reform and ‘one man, one vote’.
A peaceful demonstration of 60,000 people was broken up by the cavalry, resulting in eighteen deaths and up to seven hundred injuries.
Both sides believed they had God on their side.
Paul was writing to the Christians in Ephesus in quite a different social setting either to the 1800s or to today, but his words are never-the-less relevant then and now, seeking good relations in the home and in the workplace. And while some of his rules may seem outdated today, he was a social reformer in his time.
At the centre of Paul’s teaching is mutual respect: children for their parents and parents for their children, and workers for their bosses and the bosses for their workers. Such mutual respect would have averted Peterloo and many other breakdowns in relationships in homes and in workplaces.
Underpinning all of this is the reminder that everything we do should be done ‘as if we were serving the Lord’ and with the promise that God rewards each of us for the good that we do, whether we are slaves or free, whether it is noticed by others or is just for an audience of One. As he reminds the Ephesians, honour and respect come with the promise from God, ‘so that it may go well with you’.
Show me, Lord, where I am not honouring or respecting those I am associated with and help me to live each day aware of your presence and of your grace.
Make me a channel of your peace