So I’m telling you this, and I insist on it in the Lord: you shouldn’t live your life like the Gentiles anymore. They base their lives on pointless thinking, and they are in the dark in their reasoning. They are disconnected from God’s life because of their ignorance and their closed hearts. They are people who lack all sense of right and wrong, and who have turned themselves over to doing whatever feels good and to practicing every sort of corruption along with greed.
But you didn’t learn that sort of thing from Christ. Since you really listened to him and you were taught how the truth is in Jesus, change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires. Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness.
Ephesians 4:17-24 (CEB)
In life there are times that we struggle with who we are, or rather, who we think we are. This last Sunday I got to see and feel that struggle first hand. It was an early Sunday morning text that started it all.
“What are you doing after church? Wanna go rappelling?”
As I read the text and then reread the text, I immediately began to think of all the things I could say to be “busy” after church. All the excuses that I could come up with were filling my head. I really could say anything to not go. Instead I replied with, “Say what? Rappelling…” I was terrified, but after a short time of texting back and forth about the details, I reluctantly agreed; thinking that for sure I had just agreed to my death.
Fast forward, I was hiking up the side of Red Rock Canyon, attempting to keep up with my friend who was always about 10 steps ahead of me, thinking to myself, “what in the world are you doing? You are not a spry twenty-something anymore and you surely have a few pounds on ya that this rope is not going to hold.” But I kept pushing myself to go the next step. Step after step I went, until we got to the top of the canyon.
Peering down the side, I was trembling with the fear I had installed in myself. I was overwhelmed with the thoughts that I was not good enough, I was not strong enough, I was not fit enough. So as I was harnessing up and preparing to take my first decent I struggled with the courage inside of me to put my full faith in this rope; this small cable, wrapped around a tree and with all the safety equipment attached. I prayed. I prayed for God to give me strength, to restore my mind to positive thoughts, for courage to take the risk, and to see anew.
I took my first step off the canyon, leaned out, holding on to the cable with a death grip, shaking. I took my right hand and held it out to my side, releasing the tension on the cable, allowing my decent to be sped up. I slowly, step-by-step, made my way down the wall of the canyon.
Finally, I reached the ground. I did it! I really did it! I was ecstatic that I had overcome my fears. Unfortunately, I was not done. As we began to hike back to the place where we entered our accent to the top, we came along a spot on the wall of the canyon that would give us a substantial short cut back to our rappelling gear.
I looked up, and back down, and up again and said, “there is no way that I can get myself up that wall.” It was a straight up climb to the top of the canyon, no cable to hold on to, nothing to aid in my attempt to get my body up this wall.
After some encouragement from my friend and some prayer, I decided I would give it a try. Left hand up, right foot up. Right hand up, left foot up. Pull! Pull! Push! Push! I was doing it. I was climbing this canyon! My excitement was taking over. Joy was springing from my body. I had made it up to the top.
I was, at this point, realizing I had more in me than I gave myself credit for. I was stronger. I was braver. I was more powerful.
We repeated rappelling a couple more times, each time building my self-confidence. I had the time of my life surrounded by God’s creation in the openness of the canyon. I was renewed in spirit. Renewed in strength. Renewed in desire. Renewed in truth and power. Renewed in image.
In this letter to the Ephesians, Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus saying that they are not what they once were. Letting them know that they are now taught the truth and to realize that they are not to be selfish on sharing what they know to be true; to change their way of life from the people that they once were, and renew their minds to the new person that Christ has formed them to be.
This is the lesson that we the church today can learn. That we once might have been dying, in many ways, but today we are renewing our vows that were taken at membership and finding new life.
At St. Paul’s, we are going through a newness of life, a refreshing of our baptisms and a renewing of vows to faithfully participate in ministries of the church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. We are reforming the way of doing church. The ways of the old have come and gone, and we are seeing a new life form in the image of God.
Through our children and youth ministries, we are instilling new love through Christ. Through our discipleship opportunities, such as book and Bible studies, we are growing towards this new life. Through our corporate worship, we are praising God and rejoicing in the fact that God has given us grace and mercy from our old selves and is forming us in his newness. We are getting ourselves together and saying to one another, we are alive, we are refreshed, and we are dying of our old ways, forming to the ways of true discipleship in Christ.
I have learned a lot about myself over the last weekend, and I understand myself better than I had before. I must keep pushing, looking, and facing forward to the future that God has intended for me to have. We, the church, must do the same.
Tim Boyer, Director of Student Ministries