“In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works and give
glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Yesterday we covered Ephesians 4 in our home church. I have to tell you, I was convicted. I’m still trying to process what to make of it. You see, in the first part of the chapter, Paul urges us (believers) to be unified as a church, particularly with regard to our doctrine (our set of beliefs). Why? On the negative side, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (v. 14) On the positive side, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” (v. 15).
On Saturday, I went to a gathering of people. There was discussion of COVID-19, but not much. Instead, everyone was talking about the riots in Minneapolis and other cities across the nation. I expect many of you were, too. I was pretty reserved with my input, but the conversation was pretty predictable for central Minnesota. I did bring up the name of Jesus when one guy commented that it seemed as if the world was coming to an end. That fell like a wet towel on the floor. Other than that, the only way I stood out from the crowd was that I was one of the few males who didn’t consume any alcohol.
On a broader view, we find all sorts of opinions. Of course, there are those who can’t believe that George Floyd as killed by a police officer. That’s almost everyone. There are those who are outraged by the systemic racism, particularly in within the police community. There are those who are protesting. There are also those who are rioting and all that goes with it. There are those who support the police and national guard who are trying to maintain civil peace. There are those who are outraged by the rioters. There are those who are pointing fingers this way and that. On and on it goes. Everyone has an opinion, and most are expressing it.
Then, in church, we read this verse:
Ephesians 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.
This verse hit me hard in reflection of the previous day’s gathering. There were very few believers. Everyone was talking about the riots. Was this futile conversation? On one hand, people are really troubled at the sin they perceive in others. That’s good, I suppose, in that people are recognizing sin for what it is: harmful. On the other hand, it’s not quite as evident to find people looking at their own sin. That’s nothing new.
Nor is it new that there is outrage in the world. There is always SOMETHING to be outraged about. Our “LIVE AT 5” team works tirelessly to make sure we stay outraged. Why? Because that’s what we want. They are supplying a demand. Simple economics.
So how does any of this affect my own behavior when I’m at a party of non-believers?
If I step back and look at it from a biblical point of view, I know that Jesus told us much about the birth pangs to come. Sin will increase as the Day of the Lord approaches. We may as well push this into this category of history because it WILL happen. Satan comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. He is the father of all lies and a murderer from the beginning. He is the ruler of this world filled with his own children whom he despises. These children are aware of the true and living God, but they refuse to honor or thank him. They prefer their own gods and their own wickedness. They are enemies of God.
Yet, among the enemies are those who will one day believe, brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t yet know they have been chosen from before the foundation of the world. In a sense, believers are on a search and rescue mission to find our own by the proclamation of the gospel. I am in enemy-occupied territory as of this moment, and my job is to find my fellow soldiers, some of who are currently wearing enemy uniforms.
Furthermore, this isn’t a covert operation. I’m to be bold by revealing my position and walking straight into enemy lines to share the gospel for all to hear. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) I have nothing to fear provided I stay close to God and abide in his word.
So, how does all that play out at a gathering such as Saturday? I don’t know, but I know this. God convicted me with Ephesians 4:17, and I need to figure out what it was all about. This is the only thing I know: I was indistinguishable from all the unbelievers that day with regard to my conversation.
There you have it.
Father, thank you for loving me so much that you pay attention to me. You are purposefully transforming me “in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” Wow! What an honor and privilege! Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers