Friday, March 16, 2012

Duck Evangelism, Part 1


“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  Ephesians 5:1-2

Yesterday I introduced you to the puddle duck who came to be a pond duck.  Today we are going to start looking at Ephesians and see how we, and our duck, need to reorient our lives to make the most out of the time we have in the pond with our Big Daddy Duck (God).

Our verses today start with a “therefore”, which means we should go back to chapter 4 and see the foundation of the instructions we are looking to study.  In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul starts off from the ground work he set in chapters 1 through 3 which speak about a believers’ life in Christ, and he then systematically builds from there to talk about importance of the unity between the believer and Christ and the believer and the rest of the church.  So, the instructions we will be going over in this study have the primary focus of teaching us how to build our relationships stronger with Jesus and with our fellow believers.

The first instruction we encounter right away in verse 1 instructs us to “be imitators of God as dear children”.  I can just picture in my mind how my children, when they were little, would walk around and try to do things and say things just like my husband and me.  This is the type of behavior this verse is talking about.  In order to live in a way where we can grow closer to God and our fellow believers, we must take on that childlike attitude of watching God our Father and then imitating His ways.

The next instruction has to do with “walk[ing] in love”.  This word set in Greek has the prescribed tense of a command, and a repetitive command at that.  On top of the word tense, the word “walk” itself is in a form that does not mean putting one foot in front of another, but rather it is the equivalent of someone having a preoccupation with something.  And finally, the word “love” here is translated as a charity type of love, a love which is gifted to others no matter what the response is of the one receiving the love.  Therefore, if we were to take all of those new bits of information and add them all into the text, we would realize the greater meaning for this command.  We are not just to take occasional steps to do loving acts which bring us love in return, but rather we are to be continually preoccupied with giving to others without thoughts about what type of response comes back to us for our act.  What a convicting message that gives to my selfish heart!

Our third section to tackle is regarding the example Jesus gave for us.  Also, Jesus did not only give us an example, He gave us an “offering and sacrifice to God” on our behalf.  We must realize that this verse pertains to the first verse.  Jesus was giving us a picture when He allowed Himself to be sacrificed on the cross.  His sacrifice was the ultimate childlike example of preoccupation with giving to others without requiring anything in return for His gift of love.  He is the greatest example of His Father’s love.  And as a result of the love He gave, Jesus’ life gave off a “sweet-smelling aroma” because His act was an act of worship.  Again, a very convicting way to look at how God desires for each of us to be His example of love in this world.

So, how do our lessons relate to our duck who is now in the pond?  Well our duck had to reorient her life when she came to the pond to make sure all her ways were centered around following the Big Daddy Duck.  Just as he has adopted her as a duckling, she needed to adopt him as her father and do what he was doing,  no longer to live a life led by what she desired to do.  Her devotion had to be caught up in him and from the things he would lead her to discover.  Her life needed to be completely committed to following, learning, and acting out the news ways she was learning about pond living because in the end only by living that way could she please her Big Daddy Duck and the other ducks around her.

For each of us there are applications we too can take into our own lives.  We need to remember the most important place to fix our eyes is on God the Father.  We need to spend as much energy as we can devote from each day to seeking Him, learning His ways, and resting in His love for us.  From these interactions with our Father, we then have minds and hearts centered on a preoccupation of giving our lives as out flowing examples of worship to our Lord.

This type of preoccupation with the things of God over the things of the world takes training, discipline and determination.  To help you get started in the right direction, I would suggest that you take some post-it notes and on a whole stack write the three letters “TIW”.  These are to represent the words “This Is Worship”.  Place them around your house, or if you have kids it is even better to have them do the task for you, as a reminder to you, when you see the notes over the days to come, that God desires for each of your acts in those places of your life to bring Him worship and glory.  He has set the example before us and if we keep our minds on Him and being like Him, as a child would their loving father, we will not be tempted to love in any way but the way He loves each of us.  And the result – we will not only grow closer to God but also closer to those He puts around us.

I am looking forward to having you join me tomorrow as we continue our story and our learning.

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