The Greystoke Christ

Ephesians 4.25 – 5.2

Question 1 :

Would anyone here this evening care to say which part jumps out and speaks to them at this present moment in time?

Question 2:

If it had been Jesus who had stood up and read this to you this evening, and then sat down to talk about it which part of this reading do you think he would want highlighted.

4 25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26"In your anger do not sin"[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

5.1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Question 1 :

Would anyone here this evening care to say which part jumps out and speaks to them at this present moment in time?

Question 2:

If it had been Jesus who had stood up and read this to you this evening, and then sat down to talk about it which part of this reading do you think he would want highlighted.

The NEB translation translates 5. 2 like this…

5.1

In a word, as God’s dear children, you must be like him.

If we want to be imitators of God, exactly HOW do we do that?

Well we can do no better than to look at Jesus, who showed us what God is like!

But is it enough to look at Jesus?

Is it enough as Christians to know he looks and us and loves us?

SURELY NOT! It’s only part of the picture…that’s what I believe.

(‘True love shows itself in action!’ says John

(‘Faith…if it does not lead to action, it is by itself a lifeless thing!’ says James)

If we want to begin to be like Jesus we must be prepared to look through his eyes, and see what he is looking at, and see for ourselves what kind of ‘action’ he wants.

There is a well know modern sculpture of the crucified Christ, on the West wall (left), looking out of the window. I’ve mentioned it before.

It is by the internationally renowned Lake District sculptress Josefina de Vasconcellos.

(explain)

Question 3 Here’s a little meditation for you all, close your eyes and imagine…

if we were to climb a ladder to position ourselves at his eye level, what would we see him looking at? Fields , cows, people, life?

My initial reaction was ‘he is looking at the poor, the lonely, the oppressed, the rejected, the homeless etc…

But the more I thought about it, I realized he’s not only seeing them, he’s seeing ‘EVERYTHING’…

Not only does he look out with compassion and sorrow, he, we seem to forget is the one who will one day have the final word…the One who will judge the living and the dead!

He sees the sin in our hearts, he sees the sins and failings of the entire world.

We have all fallen short.

He sees a divided world…eyeing each other and seeing only the other’s faults.

One half looks at the other half and sees their loose morals, their obsession with sex, their apathy, their aggression, their thirst for material wealth and possessions. They see violent videos and games, their addiction to drugs, their prejudices, their abusive ways, their knife crimes, their sadistic natures, their murderous thoughts, their lack of respect for life.

The other half looks on and criticizes the other’s ruthlessness, oppression, indoctrination, lack of freedom, their rule by fear and punishment, their injustices, their steady march to conquer all people to their way of thinking.

He sees both.

We’ve all sinned and fallen short! We all share the guilt. We all need to repent.

I believe Jesus is also looking at those who profess a real faith, and he’s wondering why we are so strangely silent?

why we have given up being the guardian of morals...

why we no longer want to raise our heads above the parapet for what is right and good and just…

why we are afraid

why we are no longer lights on a hillside shining

why the salt has lost its flavour…

He knows well the comfort we love, our riches, our love for pomp and ceremony, our outward show;

He sees our sad divisions and our unwillingness to bring his good news to others.

He sees our lack of forgiveness and our lack of real compassion.

We are therefore part and parcel of all that’s wrong in our world.

Complicit! Partners in crime.

Jesus knows our hearts. He sees all and knows all.

God have mercy on us.

We have failed to reflect and imitate the goodness, the love and forgiveness and compassion of Jesus.

We’re all in need of a change of direction.

And it’s not just renewal we are talking about here …we’re not just talking about improving numbers and holding missions, if we’re honest we actually need a cultural reformation.

As Christians we are all in need of a change of diet too, if we are to change the world.

We so much need MANNA! The true Bread of life.

Jesus said

48I am the bread of life. 49Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

The manna which God gave to the Jews was given to sustain and strengthen and keep them alive for their daily journey. It was on offer for all. Manna was real food, accessible, within easy reach; but when they hoarded what God himself had provided for them, against his instructions, they lost it.

So too we mustn’t hoard this bread of life, Jesus . He is to be shared, offered to others to strengthen them and bring them life that lasts for ever.

We ask ourselves a last question…how can I imitate God…Lord begin with me.

It’s time we showed the world what Jesus was truly like.