What Separates the Humans…

IMG_20170429_071642_459This is a question that has been asked for centuries. Typically, it is ended with “by the rest of the animals”, but I have a different ending to that age-old question. I would ask, What separates the humans from other humans? 

As it turns out, it can be something as little as a nylon strap.

While flying American’s friendly skies recently, I witnessed what has become a common occurrence. If you’ve traveled via means of the airlines at all, you know what I’m talking about.

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Ephesians 1:13-14

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

Let’s be honest.  This just gets better every day.  Not only are we in, but we are marked with a seal.  The seal served several purposes in the ancient world.  First, the seal (usually a emblem or ring pressed into hot wax) revealed the owner and sender of the package or letter.  It indicated who originally possessed this item.

The seal also ensured that no one had tampered with the item during the process of transport.  No one had “broken the seal” to read the contents of the letter or peak into the package.

And so we also are sealed.  We are marked.  We come from an important place and have value.  No one should tamper with the contents!

Think on that today.  It might change the way you view your entire life in Christ!

 

Ephesians 1:9

“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,”

Here is an interesting thought:  God made known to us the mystery.

How many times have you heard someone say (or perhaps you’ve said yourself), “When I get to Heaven, I’m going to ask God about this…or that…or that other thing...”  There are too many mysteries and we want answers:  Why am I always left with the green M&M’s?  Why does the price of gas go up around holidays?  Why isn’t Season 3 of Downton Abbey available on Hulu Plus?  What is my dog thinking when she chews up my wife’s Chap Stick?  Why can’t my family put the toilet paper roll on so the paper hangs the right direction?

These are good questions, a little shallow but good questions none-the-less.  But Paul isn’t suggesting that these questions and so many more are answered now because of God’s redemption and salvation.  This mystery is a little different, slightly deeper and of more eternal consequence.  You’ll have to save those other questions for a later date.

This is a mystery that is open to those who are club members.  This is a mystery that is available for the in-crowd.  These answers are for those who have their ticket punched and are getting ready to ride the ride of their life.

In short, Paul is stating that the mystery of Salvation was once maintained in heaven alone.  God, in his power and reign, held the keys to heaven.  But now, these keys and the mystery they unlock, is available who all who ask.  It isn’t just for the Angels and Prophets.  It isn’t reserved for the chosen people; the Jews.  This mystery, this love that sets us free and pays our price, is available to any and all who desire to receive it.

Ask and it shall be given.

Knock and the door will be opened.

Seek and you will find.

Yes.  That mystery.  No longer hidden from view, God, through Jesus’ sacrifice has handed you the key to the greatest mystery of all.

Galatians 5:22 – Goodness

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”

You’ve heard it said and perhaps have said it yourself, “It’s for their own good”.  Usually, this doesn’t mean that the person in question is getting a large sum of money or have been blessed with an abundance of friends.  It means that they are going to suffer in some way and because of this situation, they will learn, grow and be a better person.

The word used in this verse for Goodness is agathosune.  It is a Greek word and unique to Biblical literature, found no where in secular literature of the time.  It is very closely linked to the Kindness we spoke of yesterday, but instead of meaning that we are good (as we are to be kind), it means that we expect good of others and hold people into account for their lives.

When we are good, we are honest and truthful about how people are acting because it is for their own good.  When you call a fellow believer on their foul language and rough humor, this is agathosune.  When you stop the church board from spending more money on carpet than they do on missions giving, this is agathosune.  When you correct your children when they say hurtful things about others, this is agathosune.  This is Goodness.  It isn’t sweet or kind but it also doesn’t have to be cruel.  It is honest.  It is direct.  It is led by the Spirit.

Let’s be very clear:  I grew up in the church and have witnessed many people (men and women) who think it is their job to “tell it like it is” and rush in at every opportunity to set people straight.  This is not agathosune.  This is not Goodness.  This is being a bossy know-it-all and it is usually intended to provide these people a sense of superiority and cruel, mean-spirited power.

Goodness can be tough love.  But it can also be a gentle reminder, an soft urging and a loving guide.

Who needs Goodness in your life today?