Sermon Titled “Rooted In Christ” (Ephesians 5:3-14) – Sunday 27th April 2014
Last weekend’s post-Easter sermon seemed somehow fitting; it’s overall theme was about emanating light and as I visualize Christ risen from the grave, that’s exactly how I imagine Him. Paul tells us that we too are to be shining pillars of light in the world, and in Ephesians 5:3-14, he explains why.
At one time, before we were Christians, we lived in “darkness.” Paul describes the darkness as a place of depravation and separation from Christ. When we became Christians however, God took us out of the darkness and shone His light upon us. We essentially received a “life make-over,” an opportunity to start over with a clean slate and a completely new perspective. Only this time, our perspective would be shaped not by ourselves and everything that has ever influenced our belief systems, but by the Holy Spirit who now dwells within us and guides our thoughts and convictions.
Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? It’s actually not as straight-forward as it seems. Even though we now live with a renewed sense of moral conviction, we were nevertheless born into “darkness,” meaning that our natural tendency will always be to drift towards the ways of the world, and away from anything to do with God. We must intentionally fight this inward yearning, and make a deliberate effort each and every day to walk in the light, following in the footsteps of Christ and doing our best to do as He did.
But how exactly do we follow in the footsteps of a perfect Savior, when we are far from perfect and innately sinful? First, we should worship God in ways that are appropriate to who He is. The scriptures say that God is light, that God is love, and that God is spirit. Thus John 4:24 says that we must worship in spirit and in truth, the truth being that His nature (made up of light, love, and spirit), represents everything in this world and above that is good, pure, true, holy, and dependable.
When we worship or admire someone, it’s because we love everything about that person; we love who they are and what they stand for. If we worship God for who He is, then we can’t help but be influenced by Him, and by everything about Him. And so we are drawn away from the things we once loved and valued, and drawn instead to all of the things that God loves and values.
Second, we must act on our love for God, by getting rid of the things in our lives that we know are not pleasing to Him. Again, this is not easy and change is never instantaneous. But take comfort in the knowledge that God helps us to change. Leviticus 20:8 says “Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy.”
Again, it’s necessary to stress that even though we have God Himself as our helper, He does not take our free will from us. Any changes we make, with His assistance, must be intentional. There are many Christians who think it’s enough to show up to church on Sunday, put on a show of “holiness,” and then go back to living lives that are clearly not reflecting the love of Christ. Isaiah said long ago that this type of meaningless worship does nothing but anger God.
Third, we are to control our “sinful appetites,” which compel us towards sexual immorality, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking (verses 3 and 4). Paul said that these things are “improper for God’s holy people,” and that God’s wrath will come upon those who continue to pursue such behaviors. These behaviors, he said, “are out of place,” and should be exposed. In exposing our sins, we will hopefully feel convicted and moved to making the changes that God desires for us to make.
Pastor Reimer likened our sinful appetites to that of “big dogs.” He used as an analogy the idea that big dogs can be playful and friendly, but if left to their own devices and allowed to run wild they can be potentially dangerous. The sinful things that we lust after are like big dogs; they must be kept under control at all times and as any “big dog” owner knows, that takes continuous effort and discipline.
Finally, we must remember that there is nothing we can do on our own that will earn us points with Christ or determine whether or not we will go to Heaven. That’s why God sent His son – to pay the price for our sins. The full payment has already been made and those who understand this are those who God leads from darkness into the light.
I know I keep talking about the “light,” and by now some of you may be asking what the “light” is. To fully comprehend what it looks like to “walk in the light,” take a look at a scenario that actually played out in Pastor Reimer’s life several years ago when he was still serving in the Marine Corps. He explained how the Marines all had “call names” at the time; these were basically nicknames that were attached to a Marine because of some personality or background trait. In Pastor Reimer’s case, he was called Preacher, because the Marines recognized him as a man of faith. If you understand the Marine Corps culture, you’ll know that this call name wasn’t necessarily one that most Marines would be proud to carry.
Still, it was the call name given to Pastor Reimer and while he admits that he was initially apprehensive about it, he eventually grew to embrace it and be happy for it. During his time with this particular unit, one of the younger Marines took his life. In a moment of shock and sadness, the other Marines turned immediately to the only guy among them who would know how to pray for the young Marine and restore some sense of group unity and morale – Preacher!
That’s what it means to walk in the light. It’s tempting at times to “turn down the light” and not make it obvious that we’re Christians, because let’s face it, we don’t always “fit in.” But resist the urge to hide your faith, because whether you are a light in your neighborhood, in your workplace, amongst your friends, or even in your own family, God calls us to shine and stand out. He calls us to turn up the light – to radiate light, by being that one person who stands out to friends, family members, work colleagues, neighbors, and strangers – simply because we love and care for others and are willing to do what most are not.
Let me leave you with the following three perspectives provided by Ravi Zacharias. I encourage you to give some thought to each of them and then make a decision. Which group will you belong to?
- Godless – What is yours is mine, and I will take it!
- Worldly – What is mine is mine, and I will keep it!
- Christian – What is mine is yours, and I will give it.