Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, remind us today that You alone have the answers to life. You alone know exactly what it takes to make us truly happy and fulfilled. You alone know exactly how we can avoid sin and the heartache it brings. You alone can exalt us as individuals and our nation collectively. And after showing us such wonderful blessings, move us to put them into daily practice. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR WISE LORD!
TEXT: Ephesians 4: 17-24
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
St. Augustine once described the Gospel of John as: “Shallow enough for a child to wade in and deep enough for an elephant to drown.” I’ve always liked that phrase. It encapsulates John’s pithy words quite well. This section of St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has many of those same characteristics. It’s simple and straightforward in its language. It captures the world in which we live, aptly describing it without all the human qualifiers people love to use, while also briefly explaining the happiness and blessings that stem from clinging to Christ by faith. To the modern ear it may seem simplistic. But to the thinking soul it is masterfully profound. So, let’s delve into it and have the Spirit touch us to the core of our being.
When someone becomes a Christian they change internally. Christians view life differently than the rest of the world does. We see God as in charge, not chance, luck, fate, or us. We see God’s ways as the only answer and solution to the evil that plagues the human race. We don’t view disease and death as “natural” but as unnatural.—That is, as things not created by God, but foisted upon humankind via our hard-headed rebellion against Him. We don’t see our senses as a perfect guide for happiness and contentment, but as corrupted avenues that need to be kept within Godly boundaries in order to bring true joy. I well remember Pres. Petersen during my seminary days talking about how many non-believers seem to be “on a different wave length” than faithful Christians. It’s true. How many times have you attempted to talk to another about the joys of your faith but they only hear a lot of negatives that seem confining to them? And usually such folks walk away shaking their head and saying: “Those Christians live in a fantasy world.”
But, I ask you: Is it a fantasy to desire a heart at peace with God? Is it a fantasy to promote honesty, trustworthiness, self-sacrifice, and the ability to say “No” to your flesh? Is it a fantasy to use language that uplifts instead of tearing down and to not base all your decisions on greed and self-interest? Charles Darwin gave voice to the view that only the fittest survive. His theories help promote the ego and glory in “looking out for #1. But, that’s a mighty lonely way to live your life, isn’t it? And ultimately it makes you into your own little god who uses people and then discards them as mere garbage when they fail to meet your needs and stroke your ego. My friends, this is the way of the world. This is the lifestyle promoted by our modern age—even if they try to hide such spiritual/emotional bankruptcy behind high-sounding, politically correct speech. So, Pres. Petersen was correct. They are on a different wave-length!
“So, I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality, so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”
Just think, those words were written about 2000 years ago! They could just as easily been written yesterday to describe American culture and the world’s culture. When all you have is you and all life is about only you, then whatever fills your senses with momentary happiness is your chief focus. Food, sex, drugs, materialism, sensory overload becomes your lust. And it’s never enough so you quickly move onto more and more selfish perversions because you simply don’t know any different. After all, everyone else is doing it. It’s almost like a merry-go-round that spins faster and faster and which you cannot escape from. Well, today we will escape! Today it stops.
“You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Who was the happiest human being that every walked the face of this earth? Who was the most fulfilled? Who felt the most compassion for others and had His joy made complete by being a giver instead of a taker? Of course, it was Jesus Christ. Note that Paul first mentions knowing Christ—that is God’s promised Savior from sin and inner emptiness. Christ is a title encompassing His work of salvation. Then Paul says we know this Christ through Jesus. That is we know God’s love for us via our human brother Who lived in your place and mine perfectly and without self-doubt about what it means to walk in God’s footsteps. Since Jesus, true Man, was united with Christ, true God, into One Person, we simply look to His loving arms and left Him carry us along in grateful love.
To be sure, every believer’s life is far from perfect. As Paul says: our inner and outer self “is being corrupted” on a daily basis. The old ways tug at us. Our old Adam whispers in our ear: “Don’t make waves, follow the crowd, blend in, and it won’t matter.” But, our new man says: “It will matter!” When a giver becomes a taker, they cease to be a giver any more. When an honest person practices deceit, honesty ceases. Well, you get the point.
Put off the old self and put on the new! Each of you knows Christ. Each of you knows the sacrifice God made for you in Christ. Each of you knows that God’s Son poured out His blood, His life, to save you. None of you are ignorant of those facts so stand up and refuse to follow the ignorant masses that never give God’s love for them a second thought. As a Christian you are blest beyond what words can describe. For now, you’re on “God’s wave-length!” So keep tuning Him in…..Amen