Friday, 17 October 2014
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. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of GodWe return again to another of Paul's lists. I've been struggling with these seemingly endless lists of what we are not to do. A thousand ways in which we fall into being the old self; a thousand reminders of what life looked like before and what it can't look like anymore. At the moment, life feels under strain. When confronted by ingratitude, anger, disrespect and the occassional dose of f-ing and blinding in my direction, it's difficult not to retailiate, difficult to be Christlike when 99.9% of my being wants to swear loudly and storm off in the opposite direction. But, amidst Paul's problems there is remedy. Each of these hateful vices is coupled with an antidotal virtue. Putting off and putting on go hand in hand. Thus, speaking truthfully is the remedy to falsehood (Eph 4:25); self-control shuts down anger (4:26); generosity of spirit is advised to those who would steal (4:28); encouragement not slagging off (4:29); kindness, compassion, forgiveness not bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice (4:31-2); and here, in chapter 5, holiness medicates immorality (5:3) and thanksgiving replaces foolish talk (5:4). And then there is greed. For Paul, this is synonymous with idolotry. (Colossians 3:5). To be greedy for anything other than God is to put God in second place. To covet for anyone, anything, else is to deny God his rightful place, to carve an idol out of what cannot save. So what can save us? In all this, what are we to do to be distinct? How can we help ourselves? How can we defend ourselves from the desire to backtrack and sit comfortably in the skin of who we used to be? The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of the world (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). A seeking of anything and everything else is countered only by seeking him. (Matthew 6:33) It is with worship and thanksgiving that we wage our war.