“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.”
Ephesians 4:17-19 NIVUK
Strong words from Paul. He presented to his friends the inviolable requirement that they had to change the way they live. No more living in a worldly way. No more going with the flow. No more following the crowd. Obviously his friends in Ephesus were once steeped in worldliness and he points out that living in this way was futile. It would lead nowhere other than to death and destruction. Paul’s observations of living life the Gentile way involved having hard hearts, insensitivity, sensuality, impurity and greed. Strong words indeed. The problem the Gentiles had was that they didn’t know any better. They had no moral compass. They had no appreciation of sin and its consequences. If it felt right they did it, regardless of what might happen.
Here we are in the 21st Century and Paul’s analysis seems just as relevant today as it was in his day. Nothing has changed. In fact things may even seem to have got worse. Human nature has not been changed by the intervening years, by the improvements in “civilisation”, by the embracing of technologies totally beyond the thinking of the Ephesian Christians. We look around us at the behaviour of worldly people – take just the war in Ukraine as an example of futile thinking, of greed, of hard hearts. Our depressing analysis of human nature today won’t change the reality of the sort of world in which we live. But as Christians we must double our efforts to show those around us that there is a better way. Jesus came to this world bringing His Kingdom, a counter-cultural new way of living. Living God’s way, not the way of human nature dominated by “futile thinking”. And so today we reach out to Jesus and pray. We pray for those around us. We pray for divine appointments. We share our message of hope with our families, our communities. And we pray for our governments, that God will penetrate the dark thinking, the sinful ways, showing them that there is a better way. God’s way.