i have a large and growing group of unchurched friends, and for that i am truly thankful. still, most of my friends are church people. and my closest friends–the guys i spend most of my time with–are passionate christ followers. they are consumed with worship and are sincerely striving to be godly husbands and fathers.
nevertheless, i have discerned a disturbing pattern in our behavior: rather than becoming more holy, we are becoming more carnal. to me, it feels like we have become too common in our communication and too lax in our comportment. it’s not that our language is profane, necessarily, and i’m sure that an outsider listening in on our conversations would not be shocked or offended. it just seems to me that our attitudes have assumed a critical edge, and our joking has become uncomfortably irreverent.
how does that happen among brothers that love jesus?
i recall a comment made several years ago by a close friend during a round of golf. we were talking about grace, and he said, “the lord is totally pleased with me…there is nothing i can do to make him love me any more than he does right now.” at first blush that statement sounds right. but i’ve since come to believe that even though the lord is pleased with me as his child, he wants me to become holy. he wants me to clean up my act. he wants me to be completely good.
paul wrote these words to titus:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (titus 2:11-14)
and paul’s letter to the ephesians is especially confrontational:
Be imitators of God (imitators of God?), therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity (so what is “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 you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (ephesians 5:1-4, 10-11, 15-18)
so why, then, would dearly loved children need to find out what pleases the lord? is the lord displeased with our sarcasm? is it possible we have inadvertently exploited our freedom? have we become indifferent to insolence?
here’s the deal: god is calling me to a new level of purity. i want to be like jesus. in relational encounters, jesus was completely engaging–never crass or indifferent. the gospels describe a jesus who was never impatient or condescending. even when jesus confronted his antagonists, he always spoke the truth in love (ephesians 4:15) with a redemptive motive. and now i want to be more like jesus every day. while i want nothing to do with legalistic rule-following, i sincerely want to exemplify him to my friends and family. i want to glorify him with my manner and with my conversation.
i want to find out what pleases the lord and pursue it.