Living in Christ
At first glance, this passage can be disappointing. It looks like Paul was endorsing some of the worst aspects of Roman society, namely slavery and the idea that wives and children were the property of the husband/father. However, a closer reading shows that Paul was acutally trying to subvert these evil concepts.
Paul knew that if he told the Colossians to openly defy these aspects of Roman culture, that would have accomplished nothing other than bringing more persecution down on them. Instead, he acknowledged that the Roman laws were what they were, but then he taught the Colossians in positions of power to build up those under their power, instead of treating them like two-legged livestock. Jesus Christ is the role model Paul told them to follow. Jesus is the true Lord and Master of the entire world, but he does not lord it over the world; instead, he came to save and renew the world by giving of himself, even to death.
In this day and age, slavery and other dehumanizing societal structures have been abolished in most of the world (but not all of it, sadly). However, there are still many situations where people are in positions of power over other people--employers over employees and landlords over tenants, to name just two. Paul's teaching in this passage is still applicable today.
To see this sermon in the context of the larger entire worship service, please open this bulletin.