Friday, September 01, 2006

Ephesians 4, Pt. 2. How does He love a filthy me?

Here we are ... all grown up, or at least Paul has just told us that is where we need to be. What does this mean? Well, if we're going to be all grown up, it's time to act like it.

I remember my severe case of senioritis. Mom had HAD it with me. We were having one of our major meltdowns in the middle of the living room. Dad wasn't home from work yet and I'm sure that Carol and Jamie had run for the hills. I finally told mom that I needed space and why couldn't she treat me like a grownup (at my age now, I understand that every single high school senior and their parent faces this). She simply told me that when I began acting like a grownup, I'd be treated as one. That pretty much shut me down, because I immediately recognized that the tantrum I was throwing was definitely not the mark of an adult.

These 'Gentiles' that Paul speaks of in verses 17-19 are not simply 'non-Jews'. These are people who have no connection to God, either through their heritage (and the law) or through Jesus Christ. They are separated from God because of choices that they've made. And verse 19 says that they've lost all sensitivity and have given themselves over to sensuality, indulging in every impurity with a continual lust for more.

Read those words again. "They've lost all sensitivity and have given themselves over to sensuality, indulging in every impurity, with a continual lust for more." (vs. 19)

I have participated in conversations and listened to people complain about our society and how it is continually declining. Children! Kids! Young People! They have no discipline, they can't focus, they don't play outside enough, they are overweight, they don't read books, they play videogames incessantly, they spend too much time watching television, they spend too much time on the computer. The list is enormous! Kids these days!

More kids than ever are on Ritalin just to make it through a single school day without being destroyed by a frustrated teacher, the number of kids that are autistic is jumping up by leaps and bounds, kids are dealing with fetal alcohol syndrome while they are trying to grow up, suicide, rampant sex, everything is public, everything is huge. No one seems to be safe anymore.

What kind of world are we living in? We are living in a world just like that which Paul is talking about. And though our kids are suffering from it, none of these things are their fault. As adults we are more interested in making a lot of money and taking time for ourselves. We eat out more than we ever have, or when time is too tight, pizza is brought in, shoved down and we are off to the next event in our day.

Have we lost all sensitivity? Oh, I can exclaim that I have lost a lot of it! I love to watch television, and I love to search around the internet. My house is rarely quiet anymore, I have so much going on all the time. I don't even have children in my life. I can't imagine what I would have done to them by now. If I want to have a bowl of m&ms in the kitchen, I do. If I want to eat Chinese, I just call and order. Whatever I want, I seem to find a way to make it happen. And it all works out just fine!

But, stop it! Just because I can have everything that I want, is that good for me? When do I stop an dtake the time to just be equiet and listen to God? When do I leave the comfort of my couch, my lovable dog, my cute cats, my television, my internet, my cell phone (so I can stay in contact with my friends and do something for someone who needs it. I can easily justify my 'work for the Lord' because I spend innumerable hours doing things for the church, playing for rehearsals, singing in the worship band, directing choirs, typesetting newsletters and bulletins. All of that is great, but my goodness, I need to be taking care of people who need me. And I can't because I'm too busy doing 'stuff for the Lord' and when I'm not busy doing that, I'm exhausted beyond belief.

I am indulging in everything and I lust for more. It might not be pornography, or gambling, or alcohol ... but, my need for activity and insanity is great

Paul reminds me in verse 20 that I didn't come to know Christ that way. I didn't learn this from him. When Jesus came into my life, he taught me to get rid of the old stuff and become new. I'm supposed to be like God when it comes to righteousness and holiness.

Then ... Paul gets a little personal - a little too personal for me.

No more lying. So, when I don't want to go out in the evening, or I don't want to do anything other than hide in my house, I have to just say that? I can't tell people that I don't feel good? Yikes.

No more sinful anger. Ok ... I'm not supposed to let the sun go down on my anger because it will give the devil a foothold in my life. Poor Max. He's not used to anger (aww heck, what am I saying, we've been married for over 12 years - what's his problem?). I got so mad at him once, I didn't talk to him for 4 days. The poor guy had to finally email me and beg forgiveness for something he wasn't even sure he had done. Was that fair of me? Absolutely not. Had I justified my anger? Absolutely.

No more stealing, but work hard. How many days do I find myself doing nothing while at work. I throw away precious time that I should be finishing projects, and doing the work that I've been given.

No more foul mouth. I grew up in a minister's family and foul language really didn't exist in my life. I was also a terrible goody-two-shoes. I moved to a new town between my 6th and 7th grade year in school. Ah ha!!! I was going to become someone new. I remember deliberately beginning to use foul language when I was around these new kids - because I was going to be cool. It is now 35 years later and I still have to curb my tongue. What a filthy habit I picked up.

I have to get rid of the bitterness (in other words, I need to learn to forgive), rage (oh for heaven's sake - sometimes this is what makes my blood pressure rise)

I can't fight with people. I really haven't done too much of that in my adult life. It's much easier to get through the day if there isn't a war involved.

I can't say mean things about them. I don't know about you - but gossip is one of those other hideous habits, along with a foul mouth that seems to be a part of many of my conversations! I walk away from those conversations and feel so guilty and so dirty, but I'll do it again the next time I hang out with my friends.

I have to get rid of every malicious thing that I do. I need to be kind and compassionate and learn to forgive. Because as annoyed as I am with the people that I do these things to ... I have to forgive them. I have done much worse to Christ and He went to the cross for me.

What's next? I'll be back with Chapter 5 to explore what it is that God wants us to be ... it looks like I'm going to be going a lot deeper with these same issues.

No comments: