Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.

Ephesians 4: 17

 

You have probably seen at least one of the many windup or battery powered toys that continually run into objects, turn away from that barrier and then travel straight into another collision. We can laugh at them and yet, I think, this laughter is mostly the result of how much of ourselves we see in the behavior. I certainly know that I see myself and feel the lumps, bumps, and bruises that result from all of those ongoing and unnecessary head-banging sessions. Now I can handle a nick or a scrape from time to time; so, I am really talking about the situations where I don’t listen to someone well and hurt them with my harsh responses and the days where I only have time for myself and my needs so that the Lord is left out of my thinking and the truth of His Gospel seems like forgotten history in comparison to my thoughts and actions.

 

When viewed in the light of my spiritual resume with over fifty years spent as a follower of Christ, you might think that these sorts of failures in my Christian testimony and behavior would be far in the past. However, I must confess that their presence in me is far too real and their currency is as close as yesterday. Yet, i do know the difference between my thoughts and actions in these times of futility and the ones that Christ desires for me to have and that He leads me into. This thing that is often known as conscience is in fact the real and active presence of the Holy Spirit within me, and He not only prompts righteous living but He also works within to transform the old ways of engaging with life into a life of truly walking with Christ

 

This is where futility comes into the picture. Foe God’s way of thinking and acting is different from the ones that all of us were born into. The Lord desires for people to live in a manner that is concerned for others, is willing to sacrifice my own desires and comfort for the sake of another person’s well-being, and that speaks out boldly through words and actions about the salvation that comes only through relationship with Christ. This is the path that leads out of the futility that comes about when we travel through life without Christ’s guidance and into the roadway that is illuminated by the light of the Gospel. For me to stay on this road, I need to stay prayerfully in God’s Word seeking His truth for all aspects of life, I must remain engaged in fellowship with Christ’s body, and in all I have to recognize that I do nothing on my own and out of my own strength as all that is worthwhile is done in and through Christ. With all of this in mind, I might actually avoid adding one more lump on my forehead today.

This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the nations also walk, in the vanity of their mind.

Ephesians 4: 17

 

When we look around us at the world where we live, there is much beauty, grace, and love. Yet, the images that frequently catch my eye are ones of angry twisted faces, oppression, and hatred. The power of fear and the need to strike back are running rampant through people all over this planet, and there seems to be no end to the ways and the places where this evil force is working to turn our society upside down and to cut away the threads of our social structure. We live in hard times where suffering and loss provide fuel to an angry fire that pretends to seek justice but that gains destruction instead.

 

Christ calls us to live differently, for there is a self-centered futility at the center of all of this oppression, anger, fear, and destruction. Children of the Living God have been shown a different and a better way to engage the world where we live, for we are living in the continual presence of the King of Justice. Because of this, who and what should we fear? Rather than join in the destructive and angry words of people who have no other outlet for expression, we need to speak out with the love of all that is the voice of Christ. Rather than focus on what is wrong with our culture, we can bring the new humanity of Christ into the lives of others through the way that we interact and relate to them. This is not a solo effort either; as, we are in this with Christ leading us, the Holy Spirit counseling us, the Word of God informing us, and the entire community of believers standing with us every moment of the journey.

 

In Christ, we are no longer influenced by the vain, self-serving, and futile thinking of this world. In Christ, we are elevated to a perspective on this life that is eternal in its viewpoint and that is restorative in its desire. As followers of Christ we should reach into the culture of sin and death that surrounds us with hands that bring acceptance and that provide a healing touch. Our Lord calls us to live in a manner that is sincere, honest, and self sacrificing, a manner that is Christ-truth in the flesh. Thus, the people of the nations of this world will see and some will understand that their true humanity and the only eternal citizenship is found in Christ.