Summary: Christian lives are not modified, nor updated they are changed and transformed. Paul celebrates this transformation in his letter to the Ephesians
Ephesians 4:26-5:2 “Transformed”
Enjoying the fall day, a man sat down on a park bench and reflected on the past several years of his life. Just two years ago he didn’t think he would live another day. His heart was giving out on him and his only hope was a transplant. Then the call came telling him that a donor heart had been found. He had the surgery and his life had not been the same ever since. He was a changed man; a man who had different goals and aspirations. Every day the man remembered how good his life is now compared to what it was, and he remembered the sacrifice that a thirtysomething woman gave in order that he might live. He had plenty of motivators for a new life.
Have there been any life changing events in your life? How did they change you, and why?
The life changing experience that Paul highlights for his readers is their baptism. In 4:22, he tells them to put away their old life. In verse 4:25 he tells them to put away falsehood.
Paul realizes that baptism is more than a church sacrament or tradition. Baptism is where we died so that we might experience the resurrection of Christ and become new people. Baptism is where we experience God’s love, are brought into God’s family, and are filled with the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a life changing experience.
Our new life as Christians is based on the life changing experience of baptism. Not only are we changed, but we are motivated to act out this change because of God’s love for us. The lifestyle suggestions that Paul makes in the following verses are not simply another list of things we need to do and attempts to be better Christians. They are expressions of the transformation that has taken place in our lives.
DO NOT GRIEVE
The Lord assures us that there is absolutely nothing that can ever separate us from the love of Christ. Though, the Lord will always love us that is not the same as saying that God is always pleased with us. Paul exhorts his readers not to grieve the Holy Spirit.
Parents may understand what Paul is taking about here. As parents we love our children and there is nothing that will ever eliminate that love. There are times, though, we the words and actions of our children deeply grieve us. Sometimes our children change their behavior because they realize how it grieves us and they determine that out of love they don’t want to hurt us.
We are motivated to live transformed lives not only because God has showered his love and grace upon us, but also because we love God and we don’t want to cause God grief.
In verse 5:1 Paul exhorts his readers to imitate Jesus in their words and deeds. Jesus accomplished many things in his life, death and resurrection. Certainly, he died for our sins and to make possible a new relationship with God. Secondly, his resurrection gives us power and victory over sin, death and the devil. Finally, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, showed us what life is to be like—how it is to be lived—because we are disciples of Jesus Christ.
Can you imagine Jesus holding a grudge? Do you think Jesus would ever bad mouth people, dis them, and spread rumors? As we live together as God’s family, and also as the body of Christ—God’s presence in the world, the idea of WWJD—what would Jesus do is something to keep at the forefront of our minds.
The imitation of Jesus can be simply summed up, as Paul does, with the words “Live in love and Christ loved us.” I’m reminded of that old ‘60’s, ‘70’s song, “What the world needs now is love sweet love.” Such an idea might seem a cliché and rather trite, but it can have profound consequences in our lives.
Each and every day we have the opportunity to respond to the love of God and live out our baptism. Such a life is exciting, challenging, filled with the everyday expressions of our faith and love, and occasional, daunting steps or leaps of faith. Such a life is what we were created for, and it is the best type of life there is.