August 27, 2020
Living the Good Life God Calls Us To Live
August 27, 2020
“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure, or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” (Eph 5:5-6)
Early in August the news broke of a prominent person, a powerful leader in the religious community, foolishly posting a picture of himself that suggested improper behavior. He said he was just “joking around.” And he promised to be a “good boy” from now on. The university he served as president didn’t get the joke, and he was asked to take “an indefinite leave of absence.”
The six verses we read from Ephesians today have strong words about behavior that is improper for “God’s holy people.” Yes, God forgives the sinner, but acceptance of God’s forgiveness and grace changes us, makes us new people, and gives us the desire to avoid behaviors that cast doubt on who we are as God’s children. Jesus saves us, not our own good works, but being saved means we will want to do what is good in the world for God’s glory.
Our culture doesn’t think much of holiness. It’s tempting to accept “obscenities” or “coarse jokes” (see v. 5) just to be considered “with-it.” No one wants to be called “holier than thou.” But self-righteousness and hypocrisy are a distortion of the Bible’s meaning of “holy,” which is to be set apart by God, to be called for God’s work.
Holiness is more than being a “good boy” or girl. Being holy means living in God’s light and knowing deep in our being that we belong to God who calls us sons and daughters, heirs of the promise. Even when we are aware of our own failings, we are sustained by belonging to the community of God’s people, and our brothers and sisters in the faith encourage us to live lives worthy of God’s call. If we are living out love of God and love of our neighbors, we will be known for whose children we are, not for our own merits.
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- The writer of Ephesians warns against immorality, impurity, and greed. Why are these behaviors considered “idolatrous”?
- Today’s social media is often full of “empty words.” Some posts are intentionally deceptive and serve unlawful purposes. What other examples of “empty words” confront our culture and how are they dangerous? How can the church help counter the false stories?
Dear God, I want you to plant every virtue in my heart, as if you were planting roses and lilies of every color in a field. And I want you to water those flowers with your Holy Spirit. Of any thorns or thistles of vice sprout amongst the flowers, I want you to root out those weeds. And I want you to prune and cut back those flowers, regardless of the pain I will suffer, that they may grow more strongly. Finally I want seeds from those flowers to blow into their souls, that they too may share the beauty that you alone can give. Amen. (Hildegard of Bingen, 1098-1179)