Focal Passage: Ephesians 5:1-5, 8-12, 15-16
In 1819 Washington Irving published the short story “Rip Van Winkle.” It was the fictitious tale of a lazy and unproductive man who meets up with some strangers, drinks their drink, and finds himself asleep for the next 20 years. When he awakens the world as he knew it had drastically changed. I’ve often thought about how our world has changed in the past 20 years. Twenty years ago we didn’t have so-called “gay marriage” in any state, or rampant porn on the internet. And then I wonder what the next 20 years will bring us.
Dealing with morality within the church has always been a struggle. Does a pastor marry folk who are “living together?”
Does a church grant membership to the same? What does a congregation do when they discover their pastor has a problem with pornography, or is having an affair with his secretary, or announces to the congregation that he is a homosexual?
These issues are not just theoretical, unfortunately they are sometimes real.
While the pendulum of social mores may change, right now we live in a most sensual culture. Is the church going to become like the “world,” or is the church going to be the light that transforms culture?
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “If you want to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.” The word “walk” is key to this passage (v. 2, 8, 15). J.B. Phillip’s translation calls it our “sense of responsibility.” I call it our lifestyle.
It begins with what we put in our thoughts, and continues with how we live every moment of every day. As Paul wrote this passage, he gave us a proactive formula for winning the battle of the mind and heart. Be imitators of God (v. 1), let our actions be dominated by love (v. 2), and let our speech be filled with thanksgiving (v. 4). Ultimately it is all about relationship. None of us can live a truly holy life apart from a living, vital, real relationship with Jesus Christ.