Sorry I haven’t posted much.  I have been pretty busy and am slacking a little.  I am writing to tell you, however, that a couple pretty substantial posts should be coming up.  they are either in draft stage or on deck, so Hopefully I will be fulfilling my commitment to frequent quality posts.  Untill then I have a small thought to hopefully start a conversation.

Last week I did a couple ‘sermons’ (I feel really weird saying that, but for lack of a better word, there it is) about Ephesians 4:28 and 29.  I started off with a little bit of last minute prep, so I used a passage from Rob Bell’s Sex God where he illustrates how deeply powerful Paul’s commands are.  The scripture says,

He 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.  Do 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.

So Bell brings up a really cool point about this command for new life.  He doesn’t merely tell the readers what not to do.  Bell mentions how stealing creates a physiological response from our bodies; adrenaline flows, endorphins come, it’s a very sensory experience.  He argues that our bodies can even physically become addicted to that feeling.  As I read on in verse 29, (which Bell does not treat in the book) it seems like the unwholesome talk (evil talk, in the NRSV) can elicit a similar biological response.  There is maybe an illicit adrenaline high from talking bad about someone behind their back, or cursing or whatever else is evil talk.

Bell describes the beauty of Paul’s command because he doesn’t merely tell the hearers to stop an addictive activity, he gives them something good to replace it with.  Then the third part of each command is to take the good thing and extend it to others.  It’s about desire, Bell says; we must replace something bad that’s desirable with something good and holy that’s even more desirable.  His hook goes something like this, “you thought taking something was a rush, see how it feels to give food to someone who’s starving,”  the same can be said for the talk thing, “you thought it was a rush to trash someone behind their back, see what it feels like to build up someone who is emotionally broken,”

The whole simplified point in all this is that Paul’s commands are real and brilliant.  You can’t just stop an addictive activity, you must replace that desire with something else, and Paul provides ways to tangibly help those around in need.  What I take from this is that I see more and more that God truly has created us to live out what Jesus called the greatest commandment, “Love God with everything you are and have, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  I say this because the bottom line is (and anyone who has done the positive thing to others in need can attest to it), God has biologically wired us humans to feel good when we tangibly love others.  We get a holy adrenaline rush when we make something with our own hands then give it to someone in need.  Likewise, it absolutely feels good when you use your words to bring grace to someone who really needs to hear something good (the NRSV says that we say these things so that our words may bring grace to those who hear).

I am constantly blown away by God, and last week I was shown, through these two simple verses a little bit more of how we are created and wired in God’s image and how the greatest commandments really are worthy of basing our entire lives off.

Side Hugs and Leg Drops (to see where I got this, read Stuff Christians Like )

JD

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