Back to the Holy Fire pt14
“No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love–like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
And so I insist–and God backs me up on this–that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ!
Ephesians 4:14-20 the Message
This is not an easy passage out of context, so take a moment in your Bible and reread the fourth chapter a bit. Back up a few verses. (That is one thing that I sometimes find wrong with the liturgical approach to the Bible; it leave out important context for those who are not disciplined in scripture. It is up to you to seek and read further in the Holy Scriptures. I suggest a concordance and a topical guide as you read the daily office. It will help 100 percent! That’s why I have loved the Thompson Chain Reference Bible all these years. It is wholly exhaustive as a concordance in one bible.)
Paul is giving us a big challenge individually and corporately in this passage. There are three points to this passage that I need to highlight for you this week.
First, we are not to remain infants in the pews, as wee-little babes who do nothing. The message says it this way: God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth, and then to begin to serve. In the KJV, one will read that it is when each one part of the body grows mature and begins to function with the rest of the whole that we all begin to get edified; that is, nourished to maturity. We help each other when we grow ourselves. Therefore, there is no excuse to not grow, to not show up on Sunday and Wednesday, or small groups, or music practice when we can, or what ever the case may be. We all have a part to play in the life of the Body of Christ and in each other. By the way: church is supposed to be church, not just a social club. When we come together as Christians, Jesus wants to show up each time we meet. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Mat 18:20 EMTV We should come together expecting Christ, the presence of very God, and the presence of Christ in others.
The second point in this passage is that our attitude is one of nourishing love. The message says that it is a “robust” love. I like that. Love and a nurturing environment make for a fruitful life, and it is conducive for the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are to be a well of living water that flows for healing and renewal. This is what draws others to Christ through us.
Finally comes the harshest part of the passage. The KJV is quite clear here. We are not to think or walk with or in the vanity of the minds of others. Other translations read “emptiness” of thought, or empty thinking, or useless intellect. Paul is referring to the Pagan philosophies and ideas of his day that distracted so many people away from achieving the things we just talked about above. Folks get so wrapped up in chasing useless paths that lead nowhere. You can always tell when they are useless: when there is a lack of inward peace of the heart, and there is no fruit of the Holy Spirit according to Galatians 5:23ff. The biggest clue is when a person isolates from his/her functions in the Body of Jesus Christ, and does not have a loving heart of giving from their own charism. The result is Paul’s description at the end of this passage: indulgence in addictions to sexual pleasures, (not healthy sex, but obsessions), and other kinds of unhealthy behaviors, not to mention relational turmoil.
Our pray and our goal should be to draw near to God and one-another, and then we shall avoid any such consequence. Let us cultivate a nurturing environment in which Christ is the center, and with heart ablaze, our love becomes “robust” in the Spirit for each other and the world. Amen!