Where Do You Live?
I remember when, Madison, my youngest child, left for college. We were officially “empty-nesters.” I’m unsure where the time went. It seems like just yesterday when Madison was stopped in church by a woman who said, “You must be so excited to hear your mother preach today.” She nonchalantly said, “Nope, I hear her all the time” and walked on.
Teenagers? She wasn’t being rude, just honest. She has heard me talk about Jesus more than she ever cared to. One thing that I’m learning is parenting changes when your kids become young adults. Now, they have to learn things on their own terms. It’s hard, sometimes downright painful, to sit back while they figure things out.
Recently, my pastor spoke from Ephesians.
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. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)
Catch some of Paul’s words:
- Darkened in their understanding
- Separated from the life of God
- Hardening of their hearts
These are similar statements to what Paul said in Romans 1.
What this means is we live between two narratives. The “gentile narrative” which says, “Hey, do it your own way.” And the “God narrative” that says, “Hey, come Jesus’ way.”
I’m realizing my young adult kids are living in between those two narratives and they will have to choose which story is worth living for. If or when they choose the gentile narrative they will find their hearts slowly separating from God, a hardening of the heart, and indulgence, immorality. That’s the result of disorienting oneself from Jesus.
In reality we all live in between the two narratives. And what are we to do, parents, friends, mates, when another believer moves towards the “gentile narrative?” Do we confront and take a chance of loosing the friendship? Do we say nothing? Do we become passive aggressive, hoping they will catch on to our disapproval? Do we withhold our emotions, money and heart? Do we just ignore it or worse yet, join in?
My tendency, at least when it involves my kids, is to want to control them and the situation. And my initial reaction when they engage in immorality is to tell them to be moral. Think about how many times you’ve told your kids how to behave. "Don’t do that, do this." We instruct them in morality.
But Paul says telling someone who’s living an immoral life to live a moral life just won’t cut it. Look at the passage, it’s the Holy Spirit that renews our minds which in return effects our behavior. Saint Augustine said it this way, “Love God and do what you want.” He knew if one were to draw near to God he or she would end up doing what God wanted.
I walked away from the sermon that Sunday realizing I need to pray for my children’s minds more than their actions. That they would be wooed by the Spirit and He would transform their minds. But I also had to ask myself some questions because I too am tempted to live in the “gentile narrative.”
What kind of a witness am I? My pastor said a witness is living a life that doesn’t make sense unless God is real. Can I say that of my life?
Am I orienting or disorienting myself towards Christ? Are any of Paul’s words indicative of me right now?
How am I doing at moving towards Christ so His Spirit can transform my mind?
How about you?
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