Monday, September 11, 2006

Ephesians 5 - Love and Fly Right

Read the passage from The Message: Ephesians 5
Read the passage from the New International Version: Ephesians 5

I have obviously never spent enough time reading Ephesians. Since Chapter 5 has generally been used as a weapon to beat wives into submission, I guess that I decided early on to simply ignore this. And I missed some powerful teaching. I am going to reiterate how joyful it is to read Eugene Peterson's "The Message" when studying these passages.

The first 2 verses are amazing:
"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that."

Love like that! Love like that! Extravagant, risk-taking love. Love that takes Jesus to the cross. Love that is an offering to God. Love like that!

And the rest of the paragraph... "Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love." Now, John tells us in his first letter (4:16) "God is love". Paul encourages us to keep company with God and learn to love. I was a good kid as a child. Other parents liked having their kids hang out with me. I guess they hoped I'd be a positive influence. And, I hope I was. But, I managed to make a lot of friends with marginal kids that way. One of my boyfriends made my parents crazy. He was into drugs and had no motivation at all. My parents would fight with each other all of the time about Brian. I would hide and hope that they wouldn't come after me, but I loved him and didn't want to leave him. I suppose I also hoped that he would finally grow up. Dad was concerned that Brian would influence me, and mom knew that I was influencing Brian. Honestly, to this day, I have never smoked marijuana and I had ready access to it daily with Brian. It just never happened. In those few months we were together, I hope that I was the postive influence in the relationship.

Now, however, in my marriage, I have managed to allow my husband's slothful habits to overtake me. I was always highly organized when living alone. Everything had it's place and everything was always in it's place. Even the junk drawer had spaces for every piece of junk. If you removed something, you could see where it should fit so that you could return it to it's exact spot. Then, I married Max and complete chaos came into my world. I look around my home right now - and there is nothing that seems 'highly organized'. I have to fight with him to put the wooden utensils in the correct crock. It simply doesn't occur to him to observe that if a crock has all wooden utensils in it - putting the metal spatula there makes no sense.

When it comes to love and righteous behavior where does the influence exist and who is doing it. I am basically an optimistic person (unless stress and pain are overwhelming me). I have friends that know they are basically negative and have told me over and over how different it is to see a different perspective. What kind of influence are you? Are you the stronger person with a positive attitude? Are you a weaker person with a positive attitude that allows others to bring you down? Are you a person with a negative attitude?

The good news? There is none stronger than God and His positive influence will prevail. If we draw close to Him and try to imitate Him, we will allow that attitude of love to influence us in our lives.

Paul spends time in the next verses telling us how to live so that we become more like God. He's pretty specific and some of it actually hits me in my face. You don't get to guess which of the items applies to me, you get to figure out which apply to you!

No sexual immorality or impurity.
No greed.
No obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking.

Goodness, but these have a lot of impact on our society today. How much sexual immorality or impurity do we simply allow. With young people, with each other. We want people to be happy and believe that by allowing them the freedom to explore life sexually, they will be happy.

No greed. When eeping up with the Jones' becomes more than just mowing a lawn regularly, we are in trouble. When we worry about wearing clothes to impress, or driving a nice car because we want to be seen in it, or having the bnewest and best technology, etc., etc. we aren't allowing the hand of God to be at work in our lives. We allow the world to define our lives for us.

No obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking. One of my downfalls. We like to entertain people and be the center of attention. And foul jokes ARE funny! How do we stop being susceptible to this influence of the world?

Darkness to Light
I've always read verse 8 incorrectly. I read "For you were once in darkness, but now you are in light in the Lord." But, there is a little word that needs to be removed from that sentence. More than being 'in' darkness, Paul says that I WAS darkness. Darkness pervades every aspect of me when I live outside the light of the Lord. I can't provide the light that brings goodness, righteousness and truth. Only God can provide that light. Everything else is simply a reflection of God's light.

Paul calls us to exorbitant, lavish love. He calls us to live a life filled with purity. In verse 15, he reminds us why. The days are evil. We are living in an evil world. Make choices about how you live in this world. Is it easy to become a part of the world, to live a life that fits in with what we are a part of? Don't let it be easy. Walk away from those things.

Speak, sing and make music, always giving thanks for everything. God has shown His love to us in an outrageous, unrestrained way. Can we do no less in showing our love for Him?

2 comments:

Sheila said...

While looking for Frank Clyde I found your family information. Frank had a brother, John Paul Clyde, who was a minister in Seattle at the Congregrational Church from 1945 to 1949. He died in 1951 in Seattle. Thought you might be interested. I am in contact with a descendant of John Clyde and will let him know about your website.

Isolde Malory said...

How cool!!! Email me at diane@nammynools.com. I would love to hear from him and more from you!