Summary: Having pursued understanding and received grace, Paul calls us to live on another level. It begins with living a life of love, which requires that we continually put off the old and put on the new.
Live a Life of Love
Pastor Jim Luthy
In the film "Grand Canyon" an immigration attorney breaks out of a traffic jam and attempts to bypass it. His route takes him along streets that seem progressively darker and more deserted. Then the predictable nightmare: the man’s fancy sports car stalls on one of those alarming streets whose teenage guardians wear expensive guns and sneakers. He does manage to phone for a tow truck, but before it arrives five young toughs surround the attorney’s disabled car and threaten him with considerable bodily harm. Just in time, the tow truck shows up and its driver, an earnest, genial man, begins to hook up the sports car. The toughs protest; the driver is interrupting their meal. So the driver takes the group leader aside and attempts a 5-sentence introduction to metaphysics; "Man," he says, "the world ain’t supposed to work like this. Maybe you don’t know that, but this ain’t the way its supposed to be. I’m supposed to be able to do my job without asking you if I can. And the dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you rippin’ him off. Everything’s supposed to be different than what it is here."*
(* quoted from commentary by Marty Martin in Context magazine.)
I agree with the tow truck driver that everything’s supposed to be different than what it is in the movie. Everything’s supposed to be different than what it is here too. I’m supposed to be able to slow down to make a right turn without someone honking at me or making an obscene gesture. You’re supposed to be able to let your daughters walk to the school bus without the fear of them never coming home. Your neighbors are supposed to be able to ask for help with the yard or the car or the kids. But it’s getting to be less and less like the way everything’s supposed to be. Like the old song says, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love." But all we’re seeing is more isolation, suspicion, and corruption.
If the world needs love sweet love, it’s going to find it in people of faith who are living on another level. When we last looked at Ephesians 4:17-24, we read that Paul was calling the church (and is calling us) to live on that other level. We shouldn’t live by the old pattern. We’ve lived by the old pattern and can earnestly say "everything’s supposed to be different." You must no longer live as the unbelievers do. You did not come to know Christ by giving yourself over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You were taught to put off your old self, to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self. Therefore, Paul says, and I tell you too, live on another level, and it begins by living a life of love.
Isn’t it obvious that the world could use more people who live a life of love. When your car breaks down in the middle of an intersection, isn’t it nice when out from among the throng who curse at you for blocking traffic comes an able body willing to help push you out of the road?
When your teenage son begins to rebel, isn’t it nice when a willing listener comes alongside to lend an ear while everyone else lends their advice?
When the money is tight and you don’t know where the groceries will come from, isn’t it nice when a friend passes up the ice cream, pop, candy, and beer on their shopping list to make spending room for some rice, potatoes, or ground beef for you?
Let me assure you, there are a lot of people living in our own community who are just dying to meet a neighbor or a new friend who is living a life of love. The vision I’ve maintained for Triumphant Life Church has been that we will see the Living Christ in a thriving church of giving people. Of giving people. Giving people are people who are living a life of love. They’re a rare breed in this day, and a welcome relief from "things aren’t supposed to be this way."
Living a life of love is a choice. It’s not something we do naturally. You might think you’re living a life of love, but most of us with any sense of reality know that we live to meet our own needs and desires first. Living a life of love requires that we continually put off the old and put on the new. That’s what Paul is getting at as he begins to paint a picture of what life on another level looks like. If you’re going to live a life of love, there are several ways in which you’ll have to put off our old way and put on a new way.