Faith— 08/12/2021

“Be Like God!”

By Pastor Jerry Donovan

Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, “You must no longer live as the Gentiles do” in verse 4:17. This is like saying to Americans, “Don’t live like the Americans.” We all may love America, but the Americans? People aren’t exactly wise and holy out there. Hearts are hard. Paul touches here in verses 17 to 24 on some of what the church has always called the “Seven Deadly Sins,” greed, lust, sloth, pride, envy, anger, and gluttony, which describe not just life as it is in America, but also what people are aiming for! We’ve been fooled into thinking anger does some good, and that money and an easy life will bring joy. The church has been and is right. These seven are poisonous to the soul, and to public life.

Verse 4:25 speaks of truth, which reminds me of the unforgettable line in the movie “A Few Good Men”; “You can’t handle the truth!” Handling truth is an art, requiring humility and wisdom. You can blurt out true things that are hurtful. St. Ephrem pictured truth as one wing of a bird, the other wing being love. Without love, truth can’t fly; without truth, love crashes to the ground. It has to be said that in our culture: truth is a real thing, even though we’ve been hoodwinked into believing all news is fake and all thought is prejudice. How pathetic would it be if there were no truth, but only our pet notions and socio-political murmurings? Truth sets us free, as Jesus reminded us, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32 NRSV). Truth is the way toward healing. Truth is that God is good, and there is hope.

“Be angry but do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26) maybe should be translated “When you are angry, do not sin,” given that Jesus said anger is murder (Matthew 5:22). There is a kind of holy anger; though we mostly see unholy anger. St. Augustine poetically wrote that “Hope has two beautiful daughters: anger at the way things are, and courage to see to it they do not remain the way they are.” Get upset by what is not of God, not in sync with Jesus; but instead of stewing on it, do something!

Paul’s ban of evil talk and encouragement of helpful talk, sounds like an indictment across the centuries against us. We Americans have become a people who seem to cherish nastiness, bashing the other guy. It’s personal, and political. At the end of the Civil War, with boatloads of resentment in the air, Lincoln urged “malice toward none.” Words, even in our day when they’ve been cheapened, are powerful. The test for us is: Do the things I say teach anybody? Is grace taught? Or shattered by my words?

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Kindness is more tender and engaged than simply being nice, isn’t it? Why be kind and forgiving? Because God is kind and forgiving to you. What would Jesus do? Be sure you find out, instead of assuming Jesus is the Jesus of your fantasies; and try to copy him:

“Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

If you are looking for a place to believe in the Word, to belong and have fellowship with other believers, and to be useful by answering God’s call, please join us for our Sunday Morning Worship Service: at 10:30 am CDT at First United Methodist Church, corner of Crockett and W 4th St., PO Box 67, Van Horn TX 79855.


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