Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Foundations For Thinking
In Ephesians 5:6-8, Christian ethics is based not on God's commandments, but rather on our new identity in God. We are not to deceive or disobey. Why not? "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." There is an "ought" here: You ought not to deceive or disobey and you ought to live as a child of the light. This "ought" is based on the "is" of your new identity: Now you are light in the Lord. If we want to find out what we "ought" to do (and not do), we need to pay attention to the "is" of our identity in Christ.We accept much behavior in this world because in a desire to be God's we think "love" outshines all. But I wonder if the Love we are talking about really reflects the love of God. Christ acted in love when he chastised the Pharisees. Christ acted in love when he confronted the woman at the well with her sins.
If this philosophical conversation seems a bit obscure to you, consider the following example. On April 14, 1984, while standing before family, friends, and God, I pledged myself in marriage. I became the husband of Linda. That wasn't my entire identity, but being a husband became a central part of who I am as a person. Now, if I were tempted to be unfaithful to Linda and shared this temptation with a friend, he might very well say to me, "Mark, what are you thinking? You are a married man. You are Linda's husband. Be who you are!" Of course, my friend would be right in this exhortation.
Mark is right, but it requires a very clear eyed view of who Jesus is, and who He was. It cannot be some mamby-pamby idealistic vision of a cosmic grandmother that loves us "just the way we are." Jesus is the living incarnation of the God that flooded the planet and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He is the incarnation of the God that ordered Saul to completely destroy his enemies and his prophets to marry hookers. These things are all as much a part of our identity in Christ as is the feeder and healer and benign teacher.
Love is not acceptance, it is character shaping. Sometimes shaping a character means acceptance and sometimes it means chastising. Sometimes shaping a character means helping and sometimes it means leaving someone to suffer in their mistake. Sometimes shaping a character says "I love you" and sometimes it says "You are wrong." Wisdom is knowing when those times are. Grace must be at play when we fail to be wise.
My identity is in ALL of God and His character.
character ethics love wisdom