Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sermon: Ephesians 4: 17-32 All Change!

I wonder if you've got a favourite item of clothing? It might be a football shirt that you always wear; a really comfy pair of jeans that you couldn't do without; or even a pair of shoes that you've always loved. Perhaps some of the adults are attached to their clothes?

This morning, I brought along my favourite white T-shirt. I've had it a long time, we've been through a lot together, but I just couldn't part with it. In fact, I decided to wear it this morning to show you. It's under my surplice, so here it is. [Reveal disgustingly dirty T-shirt - pre-treated the night before with tomato ketchup, brown sauce, soy sauce, and a few rips and tears]. What do you think? It might be a bit dirty and ripped and horrible, but it's like a part of me.

What do I need to do with it? Cleaning won't help it. There's only one thing for it. I need to take it off and throw it away.

But if I get rid of it, what else do I need to do? I still need a T-shirt. So I need to get rid of the old one, and put on a brand new, sparkling clean white T-shirt. [Bring new T-shirt from a bag, and put it on.] Is that better?

Does anyone know who Andy Carroll plays football for? He plays for Liverpool. Imagine that he signed for Chelsea this summer. Could he still wear his Liverpool shirt on the pitch? When the teams were playing, could he still wear his red shirt? Of course not! He has to take off his red shirt and instead put on a blue shirt. Which manager would he be listening to? Would he still listen to the Liverpool manager (whoever that is going to be!)? No, he would be listening to the Chelsea manager, doing what he wants him to do.

Following Jesus is a bit like this. You see, we've changed teams. We don't live for ourselves any more, doing what we want to do. Instead we're on Jesus' team. Jesus is our manager, so we do what he wants. Paul, in the letter to the church in Ephesus gives us a picture of what this is like: 'to put off your old self... and to put on your new self.'

When we follow Jesus, he removes our sin (the dirtiness) and makes us clean. It's been done. It's like the dirtiness of my old T-shirt being taken away, and Jesus giving us a clean purity instead. But we're called then to change how we live and what we do, because we're now on Team Jesus. And Paul gives us some examples.

Barney comes home from school. His mum asks if he has any homework. Barney says no, and goes out to play with his friends. He goes into school the next day and his teacher asks where is his homework. What did he do to his mum? He told lies. Is this what someone on Team Jesus should do? Paul says: 'put off falsehood and speak truthfully.'

Or think about Polly. She's round at her friend's house and sees a new DS game she wants. She puts it in her coat pocket and takes it home without asking. What has she done? She has been stealing. Is this how people on Team Jesus behave? Paul says don't steal, but instead share.

Rather than unwholesome talk coming out of our mouths - saying bad things about people and spreading gossip, we should only say what is good and helpful and true. Similarly, we're not to be angry or bitter. Instead, we should be kind and compassionate - just as God was to us.

It's not always easy to do the right things. It's much easier to lie and cheat and steal. But if we're on Jesus' team, he gives us the help we need. He gives us the Holy Spirit, who has sealed us for the day of redemption, given to us to help us make the right choices and to live as Jesus wants us to.

Whose team are you on? What way are you living? In this week, let's pray that God will help us to put off the old self and to put on the new, for the praise and glory of Jesus. Amen.

This sermon was preached at the Family Service in Aghavea Parish Church on Sunday 20th May 2012.

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