Going Deeper 08.05.2021

The second reading for Pentecost 10... Ephesians 4:25-5:2

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

As beloved children of God, we have choices to be made.  We have received our status as children of God as a gift of grace from our loving Father, brought about through the mission of Jesus, and delivered to us through the Holy Spirit.  "So then..." where do we go from here?

The choice God now puts before us is the choice to seek to become more and more fully what we already are-- children of God, or to take the gift for granted and ignore the call to follow Jesus in favor of living for ourselves.  God does not force or coerce us to follow, and our wounded self will be tempted by the Evil One and the broken world around us to keep stealing, keep allowing evil talk to come out of our mouths, and to continue to be filled with things like bitterness, anger, greed, and the like.  But if we decide to follow Jesus, God will help us to put such things behind us... although we will never reach perfection on this side of the grave.

But we are called to grow.  We are called to more and more fully recapture our created image, which Paul speaks of as seeking to be "imitators of God."  This involves a movement in the direction of increasing kindness and tenderheartedness, of learning to forgive and to love.  Again, God does not treat us like robots or puppets by forcing us to seek this process of transformation but calls us to respond to His love and grace by offering ourselves up as Christ did, "a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" which shows forth in our loving and serving of those around us.

With You in His Love,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"