Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Community
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 5:1-21 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”
When I was a little kid I used to watch Sesame Street. I loved all the characters on the show, but Oscar the Grouch was my favorite. One of the sketches/lessons that would frequently pop up would be the One of These Things Doesn’t Belong with the Others game. They’d have four pictures on a board, one of them not belonging. It wasn’t a very hard game, but as a little kid it made me feel smart that I could see that a banana didn’t belong with a truck, a car, and a motorcycle.
Some things just don’t belong with others.
Tomatoes don’t belong in fruit salad. Don’t put raisins in coleslaw. Don’t eat peanut butter and horseradish sandwiches. And for all that is heaven, don’t put carrots in your jello mold. It’s just wrong.
There are just some things that don’t belong in the Christian Kingdom. Treating any human being as a sexual object vs. a child of God doesn’t belong. Valuing things over people doesn’t fit in God’s Kingdom. Loving money more than people doesn’t fit. Prioritizing rules over the well being of a human being doesn’t fit. Giving one’s will over to alcohol and drugs doesn’t fit into the Kingdom’s sober life. Letting anger make relationship decisions doesn’t fit the rule of Christ in one’s life.
It’s not that people aren’t welcome and included. Anyone with any bad habit or sin is welcome. Always. It’s behaviors that squelch love and damage people and threaten the church that aren’t welcome in the New Community. A greedy person would hate belonging to a Kingdom group. A sexually promiscuous person would not know how to handle true love rather than the lust of the flesh. A selfish person wouldn’t thrive in a community of other-centered love. They’d go insane.
In the above verse, Paul warns against bad behavior because he knows that it steals joy, robs love, and squelches community. In the end, nobody will be deliberately kept from the Kingdom; all will choose that path because being in the Kingdom would be miserable for them.
Recalibrate: What are some behaviors that people act out in public that are reprehensible to you but accepted by others? Why do you think they offend you so much?
Respond: Ask God to give you the awareness to live love instead of self interest today. Ask Him to make you aware of your motives and to keep them pure.
Research: Spend some research time looking for lists of behaviors in Paul’s letters that are Kingdom shunners.
Remember: “You are God’s children whom He loves” (Ephesians 5:1, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Make a trail for your little one to follow. It could be a chalk line or a trail of toys or a piece of string that leads to their favorite snack or a fun surprise that they will love. Know that how we act, how we speak to each other, and how we treat each other is the trail of behavior our children will follow. Lead your little one to live love today.
Play a guessing game with someone in your family. Describe someone to them and see if they can guess who you are thinking of! Maybe start with your family members and then move on to friends and even famous people. We can often guess who people are by the way their actions are described. How would you describe yourself? Would you want to be known by your current actions or are there some things about the way you act that you would like to change? Ask Jesus to help your actions be joyful and encouraging.
You know that feeling in your stomach you get when you mess up? Not the kind of mess-up like in school where you get a math problem wrong, but a mess-up where you let someone down or hurt them. Some people call that feeling your conscience. I like to think of it as the Holy Spirit guiding you to be a good person. He helps remind us to be honest, not to cheat, not to steal, and to help those around us. The Holy Spirit isn’t just there to tell us when we’ve messed up; He gives us good feelings when we do something nice for someone too. As you go through your day, concentrate on these feelings and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.
The one phrase I always heard growing up was, “Emily, think before you speak.” I’m the type of person who will say the first thing that comes to mind, and that almost always gets the best of me. My dad is the complete opposite. He is a quiet, calm, cool, and collected man who thinks things through before he utters a word. So raising me was a challenge and took great patience on his part. Whenever I would have outbursts or blurt out my thoughts, he would simply look at me and say, “Emily, think before you speak. I know you are better than that. Those words you just said, that’s not who you are.” Christ does the same thing with us. When we mess up and do things that aren’t in accordance with His will, He looks at us and says, “That’s not who you are.” He then speaks truth into our lives. Ephesians argues that because we are in Christ, we are holy and blameless. The more we embrace this truth and believe it, the more we will actually become it. When we walk away from that perspective and from Christ, we will will live out our earthly desires. Verse 21 tells us to have “no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you.” Why? Because that’s not who we are! We are children of God, and He empowers us to live as such.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.