Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Entirely New Way of Life

          An entirely new way of life is what Paul is asking the people of Ephesus to do. What would that be like for us? If we stopped following the crowd, if we stopped listening to voices telling us that we need 60 inch TV’s and Victoria Secret model’s bodies and live in houses with 5 bedrooms and bathrooms and have a membership at this gym and that country club and it goes on and on…What if we shut off those voices and listened instead to God’s voice as he tells us to give everything to him and serve him? What would the world be like?  What would our community be like? What would our homes be like?
          What if that started here with this congregation, an entirely new way of life, a new way of doing things, a new way of living each day? Listen to Paul’s words in verses 20-24…that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
          Almost everyone here attended Sunday school and listened to the stories and paid attention to the teachers and learned about Jesus. And if you were never in Sunday school because you’re here you’ve listened to the words from the Bible and heard the word proclaimed and heard how Jesus lived and the example he was for each of us. So, what’s our excuse? Why aren’t we “all” living an entirely new way of life?
          What’s it mean? Paul says it adds up to this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other…Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart…Don’t take such a gift (His Holy Spirit) for granted. Make a clean break with all the cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
          That doesn’t sound so difficult, does it? We could do that couldn’t we? Sure we could! Begin at home. Surely we can be gentle and sensitive with our spouses and children. Surely we can forgive them like God has forgiven us in Jesus the Christ. Right?
          And then can’t you see how that could and would spread throughout the community and then the county and the state and on and on. Friends, even the most skeptical among you has to admit that if we each made the commitment to begin at home how it could spread. Of course we’d really have to try.
          It’s just like trying to break any other bad habit. It begins in our hearts, within our soul. The desire for being transformed has to come from deep within first. And I believe it’s there if we’ll just dig deep enough, if we throw aside the garbage that we’ve piled on top of it.  God, I believe, created us with this innate desire to be like him, loving and compassionate.  It’s in here.
          Paul said, “Watch what God does, and then do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents…Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us…not cautious, but extravagant…Love like that.”
          So, good friends, can we commit to taking on an entirely new way of life? Are we willing to risk everything to try? I am. Will you join me?
            Remember with God everything is possible. Thanks be to God. Amen.                

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