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Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2, Rules for the New Life

How Will We Show Up in the World?

Remember "just say no"? Remember "just do it"? The first was a slogan in the late 80's and early 90's discouraging drug use. The second was an ad slogan in the same era encouraging challenging ourselves beyond our perceived limits. Growing up in this era it could be easy to get stuck in the middle -- to do or not to do?

Paul was quite clear about the "to-dos" and "not to-dos." His don't-do list discourages behaviors that harm ourselves, others, and the world. His do list encourages behaviors that benefit ourselves, others, and the world. Simple, but we make it so complicated. We comb through and pick apart every word of the Bible searching for specific phrases and verses that support our point of view on political and religious ideologies. Then we use them to bash people over the head with our theology.

But take a step back, people. Does your ideology show love or hate? Do your political viewpoints benefit the few or the many? Do your bumper stickers accept or exclude? Do your conversations take a side, or are they open to all? Do your religious beliefs shape how you show up in the world, or are they used to try to force others to show up your way? We will probably be serving God best when we "just do it" or "just say no," and refrain from trying to make everyone else "do" or "don't-do."

Narrative Lectionary Text: Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.