Summary: How we can create "a little slice of heaven" in our Christian community as we learn to live governed by truth AND love.
A Little Slice of Heaven Nestled Between Truth and Love
Don’t you just love the smells of Thanksgiving?
the delectable golden brown turkey basting and baking away
tasty russet potatoes being mashed to fluffy perfection, topped off by melting butter, salt and pepper
golden brown turkey gravy simmering on the stove top
the sweet/tart aroma of fresh, juicy, cranberries
dark orange yams smothered with all the brown sugar C&H could produce and blanket by all the Jet-puffed marshmallows that can be arranged on the top of a 9x13 pan
warm, smooth and spicy pumpkin pie waiting to be topped off with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream or cool whip or real whipped cream topping
fresh coffee brewing in the corner
and on and on we could go—that covers about a 1/3 of what is served on Thanksgiving
These smells all waft together making our mouths water and our tummies rumble and our anxiety rise as we ask that all important question: when can we eat?
The smells are great, but the eating is better. We want to experience the benefits of what those smells are a reminder of: there is food to be eaten and bellies to be filled so full we could just pop as we lay in front of the television while the women clean up . . . NO! did I just say that? But you get the point. The smells are terrific, but the eatin’ is even better.
Fragrant offering: what Christ has done for us
There is a smell that is even better. Better than my mom’s homemade rolls. Better than Angie’s mashed potatoes. Sweeter than grandma’s pumpkin pie: that aroma is none other than the fragrance of our Lord’s sacrifice.
Ephesians 5:2b Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Paul is talking about Jesus’ sacrifice—his death—on the cross. It wasn’t a pretty sight. And Paul is not being macabre. He is drawing a parallel with the OT sacrifices that were made to God with lambs and doves and grain for the forgiveness of sins and for offering thanks. If done properly, the sacrifices were pleasing to God, and became “a pleasing aroma” as they burned on the altar.
Christ’s death—his handing himself over to die for the sins of the world in complete obedience to the Father, and as the perfect sacrifice (more perfect than any lamb or other could be) was a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. And we are the beneficiaries.
It is this death of Jesus that teaches us how to really love
It is this death of Jesus that shows us the extent we go to love others
It is this death of Jesus that reminds us of the depth of our own sin and faults
It is this death of Jesus that keeps our pride and self-righteousness in check toward the sins or others, instead learning to bear with them in love, to OFFER them love even at the moment they may not “deserve it.”
By his death we learn to love others. We are able to love others
But as you would have found out last week during Craig’s sermon, in Jesus’ life, in his very person, we find he is full of truth, in fact, he IS truth. And so we are taught to put off the “old self”, the way people (we) think without Christ, learn to live lives far from deceit and full of truth. And so we pick up the beginning line of our passage today
Ephesians 5:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
As the people of God, led by the Spirit of God, made new by the Son of God, we are to be people of truth. We are to deal with each other in truth. Not just speaking true facts, but relating to each other with no deception, no half-truths, no lies. We also speak the truth as we remind each other of JESUS, who is the truth. When we encourage each other in him.
In Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, we see truth at work. We learn to be people of truth.
Our whole Bible text today is bracketed by these two words: truth and love. It is between these two bookends that Paul teaches us how to live. We are to be governed by truth AND love in all our actions.
Truth and love serve us the two rails of a ladder: supporting and guiding us in all we do. If one rail of a ladder is missing, the ladder doesn’t work. Both need to be present.
Ephesians 4:15: “Speaking the Truth in Love” puts both together.