Creekside Church
Sermon of May 30, 2021

"All We Can Be"
Ephesians 4:25-32

Pastor
Rosanna McFadden

 

Good morning! What a great Sunday to bee here and bee reminded of our calling to be workers for Christ and the church. The author of Ephesians wrote this as a general letter to churches to tell them, among other things, what being a Christian should look like; how Christians should act. It’s a pretty ambitious list, and I think it’s just a relevant to Christians today as it was to new churches and new followers of Jesus Christ.

The author puts up some challenging marks right off the blocks: Speak the truth to one another, and be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. I could say a lot about speaking the truth to one another: I don’t think this is a no-holds-barred say whatever comes to your mind speaking the truth. For instance there might be a more helpful comment on a Sunday morning besides, “That was the worst sermon I’ve ever heard” or a better way to connect with someone than saying “Why are you wearing that?” We know that just a few verses later we’re going to be told to “be kind,” and there is no reason why truth and kindness can’t co-exist. Truth is not a weapon which we wield to prove our superior education, training, or native ability -- truth it the currency of trust; it is the foundation of healthy relationships and community. The early Brethren described a man they admired this way “His word is as good as his bond.” Honest, trustworthy, responsible. If a person like that tells you he (or she) is going to do something, you know that it will get done, and get done well. I bet you can think of people you know who are like that. I bet you can think of people in this congregation who are like that. Honesty isn’t a flashy quality: frankly, if someone goes out of their way to tell me how honest they are, I’m a little suspicious. Bee honest, and let other people figure out that your word is as good as your bond.

Ephesians verse 26 begins, “Be angry . . .” fortunately, it doesn’t end there. The entire verse reads “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” What I take from that is that anger is unavoidable, and maybe even productive or therapeutic if handled well, but stifling our feelings, holding a grudge, or letting our anger out in passive-aggressive ways is destructive. I’m reminded of the couple who were celebrating their 60th anniversary, and their grandson came to them and asked, “Grandma and Grandpa, how have you made your marriage work for so long? Don’t you ever get mad at each other?” And Grandma said, “When I was mad, I cleaned the bathrooms.” And her husband said, “I knew that you did that, but I never understood why that helped.” She said, “I used your toothbrush.” Maybe not the healthiest way to deal with anger or resentment. Honesty and anger are actually pretty closely related: if not siblings than at least first cousins. In order to handle anger in a productive way, we have to be honest with other people, and especially with ourselves.

I’m not going to go through the entire list, but I want to highlight Ephesians verse 32, because a lot of you are wearing shirts which have that reference on it. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Those are great words to live by at any time, but especially at this time, when our conversations and our congregations and our country seem increasingly polarized. I could give you a long list of things which people disagree about-- vaccinations, global warming, the 2020 election, authority of scripture, IU or Purdue basketball -- being kind does not make those differences go away, but it does help to put them in perspective in our life together. Kindness allows us to function in a community, even when we disagree. Kindness is a way of seeing other people as children of God, and acknowledging that if Christ has forgiven me, then maybe I need to forgive you. Or maybe I’m the one who has been wrong all along, and I need to ask for forgiveness.

And here is where being kind is more than simply being polite or being nice. I have nothing against being polite and nice; I appreciate when I am treated with courtesy, and I bristle when I am not. But polite is a pretty low bar to clear. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his listeners “And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:47) In other words, there’s no witness to Christ in being polite, that’s just having good manners. The author of Ephesians says, “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love as Christ loved us.” We’re not called to simply be nice, we are to strive to be imitators of Christ. And being Christ-like is a high calling. That is a worthy call, because that is the best we can be. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44) Being kind turns out to be much more complicated than being nice. Being kind means being all that we can be as children of God. It is how we handle honesty and anger and forgiveness -- with the people we love, and even with our enemies.

I hope you have been reading the Bee Line in our Connection newsletters. This month, Ron noted some of the uses of honey beyond the culinary ones we typically think of as a sweetener for baking or in hot drinks. Honey, especially in the ancient world of the Bible, was medicine, used to promote healing. Karen shared in the Call to Worship the verse from Proverbs 16:24 which says, “Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Kindness is not only pleasant and sweet, it is healing. Sharing kindness is healing for both the receiver and the giver. We don’t forgive others because we have never sinned; we forgive others because we first received forgiveness from God in Christ Jesus. I don’t know if we can say this about honey -- maybe will find out -- but here’s something I know for sure about kindness: the more we give away, the more we will have. Who doesn’t need more sweetness in their lives? Who doesn’t need forgiveness? It starts by giving kindness. We need that sweetness for our bodies and souls; give away as much as you can; the world needs all we can share. Be imitators of Christ; Bee kind; be all we can be. Amen.

 

Top of page