This morning I have been reflecting on Ephesians 5: 1-21...
1-2 (MSG) 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...
First things first: Love like Jesus loves us.
How has Jesus loved us? He gave his life up for us so that we can have life. So to love as Jesus does we need to be giving up our lives (by living lives of self sacrifice, or sometimes quite literally by dyeing for your faith) so that we can bring the good news of life to people.
Challenge #1 is to answer: How am I loving people? How am I sharing the good news of life with people? Make a list, very practically... for example: a mother who stays at home with her children and is raising them in the fear of the Lord, or a business owner who is treating her employees not just fairly but with radical grace, sometimes at her own expense, or maybe you chose to go for coffee with someone you do not particularly enjoy, because you want to love them with friendship.
15 (ESV) Look carefully then how you walk... 17 (MSG) Make sure you understand what the Master wants.
Challenge #2 is to: Stop and take a serious evaluation of how you are living your life (walking). We should ask ourselves what does Jesus want me to be doing and not doing?
Normally when it comes to following Jesus I am opposed to a dos and don'ts list , but I am just trying to faithfully record what I have reflected on in this passage, and it appears strangely sort of like a list...
1. Love people as Christ loves us. I think it is important to note that this is at the top of the list, the most important, this is not my ordering it is how I found it in the passage.
2. 3-4 (MSG) Don't be sexual promiscuous, practice filth, or be a greedy bully. Don't gossip or speak crudely.
3. Do give thanksgiving.
4.11-16 (MSG) Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness... 17 (MSG) Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly...
5. Do expose the works of darkness. I am not entirely sure what the author is all meaning by "works of darkness" but I think part of it likely includes the injustices in our communities.
6. Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. I appreciate the frankness by which the MSG translator explains why not to get drunk, my understanding is that getting drunk makes our life less valuable, useful for the Kingdom purposes, some very practical examples are: when we make a habit of getting drunk we can spend an excess of time and money on our own self gratification rather then on loving and caring for others, and are minds and hearts can become foggy with selfishness, lust, and anger causing us to lose our focus on the pursuits of love, mercy, and justice.
7. Do be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are called to be filled, not empty, Jesus promises to give us a helper (Holy Spirit), so that we can love people as he does. Following Jesus is not just about do this and don't do this, but it's about being filled with the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control... this is good news, great news, this is the hope, the empowerment to live the abundant life!
8. Do sing praises to God. Singing lifts our spirits, so if you are feeling discouraged in this journey of following Jesus turn up the praises and have a dance party!
9. Do 20 (ESV) give thanks always and for everything to God the Father. Giving thanks takes our eyes off of ourselves fixing them on God and gives us a new perspective, a better perspective.
10. Do 21 (MSG) be courteously reverent to one another. Note that this list ends pretty much how it started: with love.
Don't live a selfish, meaningless, and empty life. Instead...