This week is a bit of a special post, because a friend of mine is also writing a blog with this same name. I will post a link to it at the bottom of this page. This post is about the last eight months of youth group for me, starting around early-mid January. The topic is #therealme, a study of the book of Ephesians, and who I am called to be by God. Remembering this stuff is going to be tough, because I remember very little about the past eight months that wasn’t really good or really bad. That isn’t to say this wasn’t good, but it wasn’t as memorable, kind of like how I don’t remember what I learned in some classes in school in January. I’ll do my best though.
I remember the first few sessions were spent reading all of Ephesians, and finding every unique thing that God calls us to be. Some of these things include forgiven, saved, loved, etc. God calls us all to things greater than we can become on our own, and greater than we can hope to realize. Without God, we are so little. It says in Ephesians 2 that without God, we are dead. Not physically dead, but spiritually dead. Like zombies almost. Without God, we wander the world aimlessly without purpose, seeking only to feed ourselves and our desires. But with God, we have a purpose. We’re chosen, and we’re special. We do not deserve the grace, but we receive it anyway as a gift. My favorite verse is Ephesians 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” This is what separates Christianity from all other religions, including “Christians” like LDS and even in some cases Catholics, potentially even Protestants. As I read in Si-cology 101, there are no denominations in Christianity. You’re either Christian or you’re not. Apart from this, I think it is rather self-explanatory. You may not agree with it, but that doesn’t make it any more or less true. Only within the recent past have I started taking this to heart, but I will tell you that I’m feeling pretty good about my life right now, because I’m not living it for me. And yet, I’m enjoying it more than I would be if I weren’t living for God. I don’t know how much the lessons 8 months ago really affected me, but now I am kind of seeing that.
Ephesians 3 was mostly about how Jews were God’s chosen people, but under Christ’s new law, all people could be saved. It talked about God’s great treasure awaiting us in heaven, and how everyone who believes in him will have a share of that endless bounty. It’s quite a short chapter, and I sort of remember it, though I really don’t remember the study much.
The rest of Ephesians was largely about how to live a Christian life. The first half of Ephesians 4 was about unity in the body of Christ, with Christ as the unifying factor. Christ is the head of the body, and the body is all his people, his ecclesia. That cannot be done with Christ. It takes peace, and love, and dependence and faith most importantly to achieve that. It involves casting off the old self, the evil flesh and taking up the traits of Christ. Righteousness, honesty, don’t hold on to anger, don’t steal, be generous and hard working, do not slander, be encouraging, don’t be hateful or bear malice, be kind, and forgiving. Now, I’m not certain, but most of those things seem like common things. Christian or not, most people uphold most of those things. But without God, there is little point to them. The world tells us that we can pretty much do whatever we want. If we get angry, it’s perfectly okay to act on that and hurt them back. We don’t need to forgive, we can lie if it’ll help us out, we generally aren’t the most giving, and people tear each other apart with words in person, by phone, by internet, by letter, etc. I think most people would disagree with me when I say the world is a nasty and evil place, or that there is no basic human goodness. People can do good deeds, but they have to be taught to do them. Nobody teaches their kids to lie or steal, but they do it anyway. To me that shows that evil comes naturally to people, and it is only through instruction, taken from God’s lessons by the way, that good can exist in this world. But with Christ, our souls become purified and it is only our flesh that remains tainted. This is the struggle for all Christians: knowing what God wants but wanting to do the opposite.
Ephesians 5 starts off talking about sexual immorality, which includes a lot of things. It includes sex before marriage, multiple partners, sleeping with the same sex, sex with another person outside of marriage, pornography, etc. All of these are sins, and taint the soul, and God calls us to have one partner only, of the opposite sex, with whom you only have sex within marriage. Sexual immorality is weighed on the same scale as any other sin, but in this world, it will have different consequences. Cheating will be punished harder than lying to a stranger. But in the end, a sin is still a sin, and sexual immorality is a very corruptive sin that can lead to a very slippery slope. It will lead to big problems when you decide to settle down with one partner. God exposes the darkness with his light. It also says not to become drunk, but to be merry in Him, and delight and rejoice in Him. Also in that chapter was the part about marriage, which I wrote about in last week’s blog, so if you’re curious, check that one out. There should be an arrow pointing backwards at the bottom of this page. And finally comes Chapter 6, which starts with obeying your parents, so long as their plan is Godly and righteous. If they tell you to do something that isn’t Godly, you are allowed to respectfully disobey them, if you take up God’s mantle and do the right thing. Other than that, God asks us to obey our parents no matter the order or request. This is a tough one that I think everyone has dropped the ball on, but it isn’t too late to try. I make mistakes here a lot, but the important thing is that you attempt to do it. The final thing was the armor of God, which talks about how to defend yourself from the onslaught of attacks from the enemy. The enemy is spiritual, and everyone is involved in spiritual warfare. Satan and his demons will attack us in any way the can, whenever they can. They will prey on the weak and the alone, which is why it is imperative to be in God’s word and around his people, to keep your defenses up. The belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet with the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the spirit are the tools.
That’s what I learned from the eight months. I’m not sure I really wanted to write this, but out of good sportsmanship I decided to do this for those who requested it. I hope somebody gets something out of this, as I got it over eight months, compared to you who will get it over eight minutes, the condensed version at least. I’ve become more like God, and that isn’t to be self-righteous or anything. I’m still imperfect, but I’m trying and making some progress! I think that should be everyone’s goal. Here is the link to my friend’s blog post, so give it a look. Thanks for reading, and my next post may come later this week, something I’m a little more passionate about. Until next time!