Summary: Though difficult, the call for Christians to live lives different than the world around us is based firmly in what God has done for us– He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ!
Focus: Though difficult, the call for Christians to live lives different than the world around us
is based firmly in what God has done for us– He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing
Function: To encourage Christians to see how God has blessed them in Christ & to be
motivated to live differently because of it.
In 1991 a young missionary named Brian Davis who had grown up at the Brainerd church came to the elders with the proposal of beginning an inner city ministry in downtown Chattanooga. The goal was to involve Christians from all over the area in spreading the gospel through the urban communities and to plant a new congregation in the inner city.
The ministry immediately began working in the city’s south side and God blessed their efforts tremendously. Many individuals- mostly young men-
came to faith and were baptized! As Christians continued to work, God continued to bless and eventually a new facility was needed to meet in and
operate out of. I’m convinced it was the working of God, because an older congregation across town- but still in the downtown region- voted to close its
doors. It had been a long-standing congregation that had simply died. Its members had grown too old and too few to maintain the facility and so they
donated to the work of the inner city. It was a wonderful boost and blessing to the new Inner City church of Christ!
But . . . the building was on the city’s east side! Now, Chattanooga doesn’t have ‘gangs’ like a New York or an L.A., but there does exist a ‘gang’
mentality among many of the young people in the inner city. And for the church to move from the city’s south side – where the gangs dressed in blue– to the city’s east side -where the gangs preferred red to separate themselves from the blue- was to be a monumental challenge! Brian discovered it wasn’t
unlike the initial undertakings of Paul in taking the gospel to the Gentiles!
After their first church service in the new territory, a fight broke out in the parking lot between the ‘reds’ and the ‘blues’. Even though all these folks were either Christians or had encountered the gospel through the ministry . . . they hadn’t changed overnight! Brian found himself pulling one young
Christian off of another young Christian- going at each other simply because of the color of their bandana and what side of town they lived on.
We who have been Christians for many years might have expected them to simply drop their previous way of life like a snap! But it just wasn’t that simple!
To them, their gangs and the rivalry that they had was so much a part of their lives BEFORE becoming Christians, that it wasn’t something that could change overnight. Sometimes its tough to change! Sometimes its tough to live for Jesus!
It took the better part of the next year in concentrated teaching on the part of Brian and the other missionaries for things to settle down in their new neighborhood and for the young church to realize that living for Jesus meant that some of the old ways of life had to be done away with!
We might hear this story and think that it is far removed from us. WE certainly wouldn’t have gotten into a fight after church, would we- over something so
silly? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean that you or I changed overnight when we came to Christ, did we? Did the alcoholic who became a Christian no longer desire another drink? Did the person who had lived a sexually immoral lifestyle all of a sudden no longer desire the opposite sex? Did the person who had become so accustomed to deceit and lying that it had become a way of life all of a sudden become a pillar of truth?
For some, yes. Their experiences of conversion were so powerful that their lives did an immediate 180! But for most of us, the process is a slower one and sometimes a painful one. We don’t change overnight. We don’t change easily- some of us. If this describes you, relax- you’re in good company.
That’s just the folks that Paul is writing to in the book of Ephesians!
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which
you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the
kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful
nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects