A Story to Embody: Sunday, October 7

This week's verses invade into a territory that many in America don't like to talk about - how faith shapes the actions and choices of our lives.  Instead, many would like to have a religion without it effecting their everyday lives.  But as you read through these verses, remember that we are walking out the story of God.  As you read through the "story" of Genesis, David in the Psalms, Jesus talking to His disciples and Paul talking to the church in Ephesus remember that these too were real people learning how to walk out a God designed life.

I love that this week's verses starts out with Genesis, reminding us that God created us with purpose, blessing, and with gifts for us to enjoy.  Let these truths shape your perspective and understanding as you read the other verses:

Genesis 2:18-24
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Psalm 26
Vindicate me, Lord,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
and have not faltered.

2 Test me, Lord, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
4 I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, Lord,
7 proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

8 Lord, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
10 in whose hands are wicked schemes,
whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 I lead a blameless life;
deliver me and be merciful to me.

12 My feet stand on level ground;
in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.

Remember how in Genesis we saw that God created us with purpose?  In the verses below, we will see that this purpose continues and grows for the Church.  Our purpose is that we are lights and because of that our lives should be walked out in the Righteousness of Christ.

Mt. 5:13-20

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Euguene Peterson's book Practice Ressurection is about the entire book of Ephesians.  I have just gotten to the part where he is looking at these verses.  He points out how the book of Ephesians is written to Gentiles - Gentiles whose cultures were full of gods, such as Zeus.  The worship of these God's did not affect morality, in fact it celebrated immorality and that was a way to show your devotion to your god.  But the difference between Christianity and these other religions is that Christianity did affect morality.  Eugene pointed out how that because of their cultural upbringing these Gentiles had no context to shape their faith.  No context for allowing God into every area of their lives.  Whereas the Jewish Christians of that time, already had a strong foundation laid from their childhood: that God's Way does provide a distinction in our lifestyle.  So as you read these verses, keep the historical context in mind and also recognize that our culture is not so much different than what the Ephesians were dealing with: how to be a light,  how to live as children of light in a world of darkness.
Eph. 5:3-14
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

As I exit these verses I am once again excited about the practicalities of God's Word.  We are the light of the world, we are children of the light!  We've been invited to live out a story, God's Story.  Does it require choices that are different from the world's?  Yes, but the beauty is that we understand that we serve a Living, Loving God, who designed us with purpose and intent and He desires for us to bring life, light, freedom and truth to this world.

In Christ,

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