Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Epistle for this week, from Ephesians 5:6-21, continues the theme of putting off and putting on which Paul introduced earlier. Here it’s a little more oblique, but we can still find it. We are to put off listening to empty arguments which lead us astray into darkness. Instead, we live as children of light, with the light of the Lord. Putting on faith in Christ makes us bear fruit of Christ’s light - goodness, righteousness, truth. How do we do this? We do it by taking in God’s Word to know what is pleasing to him. Another put off and put on shows up in verse eleven. It’s more straightforward We avoid the “works of darkness.” They are fruitless. Or, rather, they bear fruit we don’t want to be bearing. Instead, we expose those works. How do we expose those works of darkness? It’s by the light of the Lord. In Christ, everything is exposed. The apostle says it in a different way in verse 15 and 16. We put off foolishness and put on wisdom in the Lord. In verse 18, we put off drunkenness, preferring to be filled (put on) with the Spirit of God. This fills us with positive speech, joy, and even songs which bring glory to God.
How are we going to do all this? It seems good, sure. But what do we bring to the equation? I’ve heard bad teaching and preaching many times which simply urges me and the other listeners to try harder. Sometimes it will spell out the specific things we should do. Maybe we are supposed to keep a journal and make sure we are doing enough good things, putting on enough of Christ. But how do we know?
It isn’t something which can be quantified that well. Let’s just say, for now, that by putting on Christ, we are regularly asking him to rule our lives, to change us by his grace, to make us instruments of mercy, to help us bring peace into our situations, and to turn our hearts and minds to him. How will we know if that is happening?
The fact is, in all likelihood, we won’t know if the Lord is changing us into his image. We’ll just feel like ourselves. But our friends and family will notice, bit by bit. Maybe they will start identifying us as people who carry the image of Christ into our different circumstances. Chances are, if we are aware of it happening, we will just be proud and arrogant anyway. But those aren’t characteristics of Jesus the Lord. He’s the one who is humble, who came to serve and give himself as a ransom for us. Until that final day, then, when the Lord raises the dead, we simply ask the Lord to put His Spirit into us. We live our lives, doing what good we can, and asking the Lord’s forgiveness when we see we have failed. And we trust that he will complete this good work in us.
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