Sunday, December 16, 2012

On 12-23-12, John 1:1-5, 14; Ephesians 5:1, 2, 6-14 will be our Adult Sunday School/Uniform Series/International Sunday School Lesson, herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as Alive in the Light of Christ aka Live in the Light.

Alive in the Light of Christ
 Live in the Light
 John 1:1-5, 14; Ephesians 5:1, 2, 6-14
International Sunday School Lesson
December 23, 2012

Jed Greenough

Some of you really get it!  For you the scripture for today was illuminated in your mind and you set out on a course to let the light of Christ be seen in you.  For others of us, we have yet to cooperate enough with the Holy Spirit.
I think that it isn’t too often to tell ourselves and each other that we cannot just believe we must actively live our faith.
Paul tells us, “Be imitators of God” and “live a life of love” and “live as children of light” and actually “find out what pleases the Lord.”  And he doesn’t really mean we have to discover what that is as he just told us in the words that preceded that it is “all goodness, righteousness and truth.
But you as a sinner though you can immediately right now be an imitator of God, you cannot immediately give a good impression of Him.  I grew up watching on TV one of the greatest imitators of the time, Rich Little.  Now I am sure as time went on Rich could take on the task to imitate people such as Jack Benny and Johnny Carson more and more quickly until he became better and better at doing so.  But as with everything it takes years and years to become truly adept.  There are very few that reach the level of professional imitator because they aren’t willing to put forth the effort.
For Christians though unlike people such as Rich Little who have to reach the level of professional in their pursuits on their own, we have a Helper in the Holy Spirit.  But like an amateur who becomes a professional you have to desire that change in status if you are going to see the results, “the fruit of light” as Paul puts it.
Okay, so we make the decision to pursue this change in our life because as again Paul says we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6) but rather slaves to righteousness and this leads to holiness.  Elsewhere in Romans 12 Paul uses the example of our being living sacrifices to God.
Slaves and sacrifices, these are hard words and hard teaching aren’t they?  So hard in fact the vast majority of us would give up rather than undertake them and why some who teach avoid them.  They would have you believe that it is enough merely to be saved by your belief but Paul doesn’t teach that and as he says in Ephesians 5:6-7 from today do not let those who teach things such as this deceive you, do not partner with them. 
Paul teaches instead the truth not what is easy because he wants us not to know God’s wrath but what pleases Him.  Paul says that when we are slaves to righteousness and living sacrifices to God than we are pleasing Him (Romans 12:1).  In so doing we are worshiping God and signifying in the words of one of today’s title that we are “alive in the light of Christ”.
Once we all lived in the dark just as all who haven’t been saved still do.  Those who are unsaved have no desire to worship God so we shouldn’t bear much resemblance to them should we?  The only difference between us and them cannot and should not be that we attend Sunday School and a worship service but after that we are just like them.  This is dare I say it, not even pleasing to God.  Instead our whole lives are to be an act of worship.
The words from today’s scripture tell you how but I think that Romans 12 because it expounds upon it and drives the point home:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;  if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The more we devote ourselves to living to worship God in this manner the more we will be transformed.  The more we are transformed the less we will resemble our former selves.  The less we resemble our former selves the more we will be alive in the light of Christ.  The more light we live in the more we will lead out of darkness. 
Yes, it is a hard teaching, but it’s the truth.

For Discussion:

1.      Discuss all the different things that John 1:1-5 reveals to us.
2.      Discuss the myriad of ways we can be imitators of Christ.
3.      Discuss what it is to live a life of love.
4.      Discuss the responsibility of not being deceived as it mentions in Ephesians 5:6.
5.      Discuss Ephesians 5:10’s “find out what pleases the Lord.”
6.      Discuss ways that we might expose the fruitless deeds of darkness, even our own.
7.      Merry Christmas, Jed.

Upcoming Adult Sunday School Class Commentaries

12-30-12: Christ’s Love for the Church Ephesians 5:18-6:4 or Ephesians 5:21-6:4
1-6-13:     Proclaiming Christ Philippians 1:12-26 or 1:15-26
1-13-13:   Imitating Christ aka Jesus’ Humility and Exaltation Philippians 2:1-13 or 2:5-11
1-20-13:   Knowing Jesus Christ aka Gaining in Jesus Christ Philippians 3:1-11 or 3:7-11

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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