Only fools observe. Ephesians 5-15-20
(hold up the Valiant service manual) How do you think I became a motor mechanic? Did I just pick up this book, put on a pair of overalls, tuck the book under my arm, and walk into a garage? No, of course not! What makes a mechanic a mechanic? For someone to be a motor mechanic, they have to be totally involved in the job; working on cars, studying how they work, pulling engines and gearboxes apart and …hopefully, putting them back together again. By actually doing the job you grow in knowledge, confidence and ability and before long, you become what you do…a mechanic.
This is the same with every thing we do isn’t it? Both for our good..or…for our bad. The fact is, whatever we involve ourselves in, we become. We become a cyclist when we ride a bike or we become a criminal when we steal. While we might intentionally want to become a mechanic or become any other profession, by immersing ourselves in the work and allowing the very job we do transform us, very few of us intend to become what we don’t want to be.
No one wants to become an alcoholic; none of us intentionally become addicts to sex or gambling; none of us intentionally become adulterers or murderers. It literally just happens. It really does. What we involve ourselves in, we will finally become.
Listen to a testimony from a reformed gambler.
Many years ago, on odd occasions, I would, as they used to say, go into a club and have a “pull on the machines.”
What that meant was, having a bit of a flutter on a “one-armed bandit” or poker machine.
I was always able to go into a club with no more than $5 or a few coins, have a bit of fun and then when all that amount that I had allocated for that time had run out, then I would leave and was content in that. This would happen only about three or four times in a year. So this was for about thirty years.
But one day, I won $100 on a 1c machine and that is when I really started getting “hooked.” Can you see how subtle Satan works? All addictions start out so small scale, so innocent. And you may say, that as a Christian, I should not have been in there anyway. Yes that is true, but every now and then, we do veer off “the path” (exert from www.Life Connection Ministries)
Did you hear what this person found out the hard way? Slowly, over time, as we involve ourselves in something, we become what we do. Simply knowing about gambling doesn’t make you a gambler. Gambling is what makes you into a gambler; knowing about unjust anger won’t make you an angry person. Harbouring anger will make you an angry person. Participating in such things, bad or good, will turn us into what we are doing.
St Paul warns ‘Be very careful, then, how you live– not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.’ Be careful, Paul says, there are real consequences in the way we live; both for now and in eternity. He gives a very relevant example of actions that change us. ‘Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.’ No one sets out drinking a few beers to intentionally become wicked, depraved and be involved in acts of indecency. It just happens. The alcohol becomes a part of us, and changes us to do what we would not normally do.
Paul here chose wine as an example, but I am sure we could all think of one bad influence in our life that, if we continue in it unabated, we would become what we do; It just happens, as St Paul says in Romans 7 ‘I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Even though we are baptised, born again by the Spirit and have all the gifts of Jesus; forgiveness, life and salvation, our inclination is not now to always do good, but to still always err on the side of sin. An unwise believer, as Paul puts it, is one who thinks they can, once baptised, live their Christian walk by their own strength of will and determination.
An unwise or foolish believer is one who thinks they can participate in worldly acts and not be changed by it. Have you thought that yourself? Sorry, but this won’t cut it, Paul says ‘the days are evil.’ And since this is the case, we who are by nature sinful and unspiritual, if we continue to feed on the evil the world provides, we will, slowly become as evil as the age.
So what is the point here? To make us feel horrible and stop us trying to do the right thing, since we will end up being evil anyway? No. St Paul writes this to shine forth the glorious gospel of Jesus. He says ‘do not be foolish, but rather, know what the will of the Lord is’. The writer of Proverbs also encourages us to do the same ‘leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.’ As a Christian be clear on the gospel! Know the will of the Lord, then you will be truly wise and will walk in the way of understanding; in freedom and in joy. Do you know what the will of God is?…
Jesus clearly states it, just a few sentences before today’s gospel ‘For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’ The will of God is for us to hear the word of Jesus, look to him for salvation and believe.
And again, at Jesus’ transfiguration the Lord states his will ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him! And the word of Jesus that our Heavenly Father, the Lord, wills us to hear and believe is this “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him and I will raise him up on the last day.’
Many Christians think the will of God for us is all about just living a good and moral life. But, thanks to St Paul’s promptings, we discover here the true will of God; to believe in Jesus that he is our savior and to listen to his word and to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus. The good news is that as we continue to do this, he remains in us, and we in him. Or put another way, we become what we participate in. By faith in Jesus, as we indulge in his body and blood truly present here in the bread and wine, we become what Jesus is, righteous, holy, and the honor of being adopted as sons of God.
By reading, listening to and studying God’s word and taking the sacrament of Holy Communion, or ‘doing’ God’s word, we become what we do, or better still we become what is given to us. Luther called this the great exchange he writes ‘Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, just as I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and have given to me what is yours. You have taken upon yourself what you were not and have given to me what I was not’. He made your sins his own and has made his righteousness yours’
The good news is found in will the of God; that we are made into Christians by God himself as we eat the body of Jesus and drink his blood, hear and believe in him. As we ‘do’ God’s word. And as we ‘do’ God’s word, Paul encourages us that we will be filled with the Spirit; speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; singing and making music in our heart to the Lord, and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s joy in the gospel and the gospel is what you have with you and in you. Praise God.