Posts Tagged ‘Christ-likeness’

EPHESIANS 4:25-5:2

25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 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. 29 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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 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.

We “make room for the devil” when we allow our emotional impulses to drive our behavior, especially our behavior towards others. When the heat of anger flares within us, all manner of associations can boil up from our subconscious memory, and the emerging conspiracy of forces from within can fast become an agency of evil.

It must have been that the church in Ephesus was experiencing something of a civil war, as members slandered one another behind the back and seeped poisonous gossip into the congregational grapevine. The writer has no patience for it, and sees it rightly as an emotional and spiritual infection that will eventually destroy the entire community unless it is brought under control.

A church has more important work to  do than settling scores and hashing over past disputes. As an organism of the Holy Spirit, it was intended to be the body of Christ in the world. Instead, when congregations become divided and possessed by a spirit of “bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice,” they deform into unholy strangleholds of demonic power.

Tragically, even though their marquees may identify them as Christian churches, the spiritual life inside is about as far as you can get from a genuine likeness to Christ himself. In the words of this author, they “grieve the Holy Spirit of God,” claiming to represent the divine cause in the world but instead working against it as perhaps its greatest obstacle and opponent.