By Morgan Crane
“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. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught about him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitudes of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
--Ephesians 4:17-24 (Read Ephesians 4)
It is a new year, a new semester, and a new day. With all of this “new” comes, for each of us, the opportunity to live a life that looks more like God than it did in the years, semesters, and even days prior.
This passage from Ephesians 4 invites us to reflect on our relationships with God and others. We must ask ourselves, to whom and to what is my heart hard? What does it mean, in my life, to unlearn the world?
What does it mean to learn God and His ever-holy attributes?
My heart is hard to a lot of people, namely my parents, and my heart is hard to the God who calls me to see them first as His children. My mom and dad are not Christians, and since I became one in high school, I’ve resented my somewhat isolated faith. I had the church, of course, and the Spirit at all times, but I always wanted my home to be a sanctuary and parents who were spiritual leaders, who would pray with and for me and seek the Lord’s wisdom in how to love and discipline me. Mom and Dad never met my expectations for godly parents, but this does not justify the disrespect and impatience I’ve shown them.
I believe that unlearning the world, in my case, means putting aside passive aggression and resentment. It means choosing to be an example of God instead of greed and entitlement. It means not responding to situations with the world’s reflexes. It means refusing the notion that my parents’ words are empty without knowledge of God. I am the closest Christian to my parents, and my relationships with them matter. My attitude toward them not only affects our relationships with each other, but each of our personal relationships with God.
Learning God and His attributes means being a vessel for God’s love and instilling a culture of prayer and sacrifice in our home.
It means valuing my parents’ experiences and illuminating how God was and is present in them. It means being willing to take on the role of humble teacher when God calls for it.
I want to hope that my parents will know the Lord and that they will be with me in paradise; I am still in the refining furnace that will make this hope possible. Tomorrow is a new day.
I hope that you, too, will dwell on this passage and ask yourself what it truly demands of you. To whom and to what is your heart hard? What does it mean, in your life, to unlearn the world? What does it mean to learn God and His ever-holy attributes?
—Morgan Crane serves on Cornerstone Leadership as member of the Cross-Cultural Ministry Team (CCM).