Before reading today’s post please read the following scripture – Ephesians 5: 1-20. Pray and then join me in the pew.
In the church today the scripture as written is being challenged and in some situations completely ignored. Recently a Pastor said that there are times when a particular bit of scripture will make him feel uncomfortable, prompting him to spend more time with it, reading it in its full context, then studying and praying and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I read a great deal and listen to those in the pew in normal everyday conversations and usually I will find something to write about. Today’s blog actually was inspired by one of my daily devotionals. The scripture reading was from Ephesians 5: 1-20 and it stayed on my mind the whole day. I went back and read the entire chapter and you know what…….it made me uncomfortable. What was Paul thinking when he wrote that first verse in Chapter 5?
“you must become imitators of God, as well-loved children imitate their father.”
I believe Paul’s point was that we must live a Holy Life as we have been commanded to from the very beginning of God’s speaking to his people through the Patriarchs of the Old Testament and to this very chapter of Ephesians and throughout all the scriptures. Deuteronomy is often referred to as the book of laws and contains a verse that has become the definitive statement of Jewish identity. Deuteronomy 6:4 -“Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” There would come a point where the Jews would be consumed by attempting to live in strict obedience to the Law, of which an additional 613 laws had been added over time. How do we walk the “Way”
and what is required of us? There are many answers throughout scriptures, here is one of my favorites.
[ A Call to Love and Obedience ] “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.
I think that this scripture is easily understood and leaves little room for re-interpretation. Today we are overwhelmed with various interpretations and well meaning writings that seek to put the scripture in a form that is livable with today’s accepted social standards. What God asks of us is so simple when written but evidence supports that the living of such is extremely difficult; many fail every day even though God in his wisdom continues through all scripture to provide us with the way and even gave His only son’s life to absolve us of our sins and afterwards sending the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us as we strive to live a Holy Life. We still somehow fall short. Let’s take a closer look at Ephesians 5: 1-20.
Paul sets before these Christian people a high standard to aspire to. He instructs them to be imitators of God. Paul reasserts it is their responsibility to reject certain types of behavior. There is no need to put down an exhausting list of don’ts and do’s, so keeping to that thought, see how Paul states the obvious.
“Let no one even mention fornication and unclean living and insatiable desire among you – it does not befit God’s consecrated people to talk about things like that. Let no one even mention shameful conduct. Let there be no foolish talking and graceless jesting among you – for these things are not fitting for people like you. But rather let your talk be a gracious thanksgiving to God. You know this and you are well aware of it, that no fornicator, no unclean liver, no one who is characterized by that greed – which is idolatry – has any share in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words. It is because of these vices that the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience. Don’t become partners with them”.
Even today Paul’s instructions and abolishment could be said to us with no adjustment of wording at all. “You know this and you are well aware of it” That being so, why do we continue such behaviors? I think part of the reason is our practice of rating some sins as horrendous, while others although bad, don’t quite reach the bar worthy of total righteous Christian indignation. We seem to allow a little wiggle room claiming Christian tolerance and forgiveness. Now I am alright with the tolerance and forgiveness thing on the back end, which leaves open a whole new blog subject but what we do on the front end needs a lot more effort on our part. The front part being learning how to convey our faith as the reason we seek to live a Holy Life. We must become better communicators. Besides walking the walk we must learn to talk the talk.
It has been said that to be a great orator, three things had to be present.
– Theory, a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action. We believe these basic precepts are necessary to living our Christian faith.
-Imitation, the assumption of behavior observed in other individuals. We must imitate Christ’s love for all people, be compassionate and be in total obedience to God.
-Practice, carry out, apply and practice what you preach.
Light and dark are words which are often used in biblical teachings to clearly communicate a state of being that produces an immediate picture most people can understand. Paul finds no need for fervent preaching but simply says that the non-Christian lives life in the dark, while Christians enjoy living in the light of the knowledge of Christ. It is a light that makes them useful citizens of this world who work toward not failing in their duty, human or divine, which in turn serves those things that are pleasing in God’s eyes. “It is the Christian’s duty to expose every action, every decision and every motive to the light of Christ.”(William Barclay)
We know that evil does not like the light but we should always remember the light of Christ as not only condemning but with it also comes healing. This is only one of many great chapters that can be found in God’s word. “Walking the Walk” is never an easy thing…..15 SO… be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5: 15-20)