Tag Archives: vision

Make it up as you go along?

Today we read on in the part of Ephesians where Paul sets out the consequences of Christian faith. (The reading is Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2)

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Ephesians 4:25

Last week I pointed out that the letter to Ephesians divides at 4:1 between what God has done (chapters 1-3) and the consequences (4-6). There is always the temptation to think we know already. How often do we hear “I know right from wrong!”. I suggest we need to look carefully, to re-read the instructions. Look at this verse. Lying is normal in many societies, now as always. Yet it causes great problems.

If Christians were known as people who always spoke truly, think of the difference it would make! There would be great demand for them in politics, management, unions, caring professions, police . . But Christians aren’t known for telling the truth, which is a pity.

But it is about far more than job opportunities. Think about ourselves. Lying is often about boasting, or trying to protect yourself. What if we told, and knew, the truth about ourselves? Self-assessment with humility and honesty, but not leaving out the positives: gifts, opportunities, abilities to serve. There would be real advantages, but how are we to get there? We would have to develop the habit of speaking the truth among ourselves – with proper respect, and honest re-direction of misunderstanding and false ambition.

Then, what about the truth about other people? Are they celebrity superstars, or rubbish? Neither, of course. They are sinners, like us. Flawed, but with the hope of repentance, forgiveness, and new life given by a gracious God. We need to be honest about that, and ready to speak of it.

I could go on. What about the truth about what we are doing to our environment? About the true need for Fair Trade? How does God truly see our church, and others? If we were known as people who could be relied on to tell the truth, with gentle respect, trust among Christians would increase, giving a new quality to fellowship between believers. Christians would be more valued in the community.

So, yes, truth is important. It needs more thought and practice. And this is just the first verse of 8 in the 2nd reading of 3. We don’t know it all; we need to look more carefully, and then with God’s help, to practice!

The Holy Spirit

On the Day of Pentecost many will turn their thoughts to the story of the birth of the church in Acts 2. But we are also given Romans 8:22-27 to consider.

Paul speaks of vision and hope – not a hope of going back to some former “golden age”, even the events of that first outpouring of the Spirit on Jesus followers. He recognises that we have not “arrived”, that we live in a situation still incomplete. Our present life is not the final stage, and we look forward. Vision is always important, but the content of the vision also matters.

Paul encourages us to “our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies”, that is the full experience of God’s love and transformation which will come after our life on earth. This isn’t all there is, and however hard we look to anticipate God’s Kingdom, in our relationships, our service and our worship, there is more and better to come. We can be confident of that because of what God has promised.

The second thing is that, even though we don’t really know what we should be praying for, the Spirit prays for us and guides. It is another source of confidence. We are not guided only by human plans and projects, but by God the Holy Spirit. We can join in with that prayer – “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” is a well known phrase, which acquires greater meaning, as do phrases like “in Jesus name”, “through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Praying in tongues is also an action which helps offer our obedience and encourages us to take direction.

Pentecost added a new celebration to the festival of harvest and the giving of the Law when the Holy Spirit arrived so dramatically. We rejoice in that, but our Spirit given vision looks forward, to what is yet to come in God’s mercy and grace.