8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
We are called to love one another and to do that we should wake up from our slumber, lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light and then we will be able to “put on” our Lord Jesus.
Wake up from our slumber.
I have always loved the Needtobreathe song Slumber:
Days they force you
Back under those covers
Lazy mornings they multiply
Outside your window
Wake on up from your slumber
Open up your eyes
We need to wake up and wipe the sleep out of our eyes. Wake up from complacency. Wake up from auto-pilot. “For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near.” We need to open our eyes to the possibilities of spreading the Good News, of spreading light of spreading Jesus to the whole word. We don’t need to be day dreaming about it, we need to snap out of the day dream, and trust the One, as Ephesians says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” But first we must,
Lay aside the works of the darkness and put on the armor of light.
Notice the sins are the ones we think of us singular, personal sins such as adultery, murder, stealing, coveting, drunkenness, quarrelling, jealousy, debauchery or licientiosness. But the “you” is plural. It’s like y’all. Paul is telling us all to lay aside the darkness inside each of us, not pointing one of us out. But, we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
We are called to literally lay aside the darkness and choose the better way.
In the 1986 film, The Mission, Robert De Niro plays Rodrigo Mendoza, a brutal slave trader from the conquistador era who has captured, sold and murdered many native South Americans. Although he scarcely thought twice about killing a native in the past, when Mendoza murders his brother in a fit of anger he is overcome with remorse. A Jesuit priest gives him a penance to atone for his sin: he must accompany an expedition of Jesuits deep into the rain forest, where they plan to teach the natives about Jesus Christ.
On the trek into the forest, Mendoza binds up his armor in a net. He ties a rope around this heavy burden and drags it along, to remind himself of the violent life he has left behind. The sack of armor slows the expedition, but the priests tolerate it because they know how important it is to the penitent man.
Close to their destination, the missionaries climb to the top of a waterfall. At the top, they warmly embrace the native friends they have come to know on an earlier journey. But then the natives spy the exhausted Mendoza, still ascending the rocks beside the waterfall, dragging his armor behind him.
They know him, and they fear him. One of the natives grabs a knife and runs over to Mendoza, holding the blade against his neck as though to kill him in revenge. Mendoza looks up at his assailant, preparing himself for death.
But then something surprising happens. The native does slash his knife, but what he cuts is not Mendoza’s throat. He cuts the rope holding the bag of armor. The entire company watches the conquistador’s burden fall away, falling end over end down the waterfall, smashing onto the rocks below.
Mendoza cries like a baby, fresh from the womb of God. A priest says, “Welcome home, brother.” Then, his real instruction begins.
Jesus doesn’t want us to carry around our baggage of sin; he frees us from that and scatters it far and wide. It takes a lot for us to let that sink in. Total forgiveness for our awful stench of sin. Us hanging on to the sin can lead to darkness, if we don’t cling to the Lord’s good forgiveness.
Lay aside the works of the darkness and put on the armor of light. Not the heavy armor of sin, but armor of light. To protect as from the darkness. To protect us from the evil that so quickly creeps in. God does not leave as defenseless and alone, he instructs us to lay aside, to put away from us, the darkness of sin and put on the armor of light. We must truly repent and turn away from sin, that’s how we’ll be children of the light.
“Put on” the Lord Jesus through a personal connection and a community of support to help us.
A mother with two young children put them to bed and went to prepare herself for bed. She put on some old clothes and went to the bathroom. She washed her hair and wrapped a towel around her head to dry her hair. She applied cold cream on her face to remove her makeup. Just as she was about to wipe off the cream, she heard the noise of her children playing in their room. She stormed into the room, hollered and told her two small children to get back into bed, reminded them that it was time to sleep, turned out the light and slammed the door. As she left the room, one of the children, with a trembling voice, asked the other, “Who was that?”
We don’t want others asking, “Who was that?” when they look at our lives. We want others to know Who it is Who lives, breathes, and shapes our lives. We want Jesus to be all over us!
It’s not putting on airs, putting on the ritz, or putting on your make up; but it’s putting on Christ. It’s not just being nicey nice or putting on an act, it’s actually taking on the characteristics of Jesus. Jesus exemplified the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” As we put on Christ, we should start with those virtues listed in this Galatians text. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those are a good place to start!
How else do we “put on” Christ but by being in the Word, creating a spirit of gratitude, and not letting the world, or the devil, get the better of us.
We all need encouragement and support from a community of faith. To sing our song to us when we are down and out, to sing our song to us when we are weary and discouraged to help us sing when we’ve lost our tune. Bishop Woodie White, retired United Methodist bishop, tells about the chaffinch bird, a little reddish-brown bird found in Europe. The chaffinch sings like a canary, but there is something unique about this popular songbird. When people take them into their homes, the little birds soon forget how to sing. When they forget how to sing, they get sick. Eventually, they become depressed and die. Unless, of course, they are taken back to be with other chaffinch, in which case they congregate and relearn how to sing and are well again. We are like the chaffinch, we don’t need do it all by ourselves, we need to be with others to help us forge the rivers and help us scale the rocks of the mountains. Our fellow journeyers make us stronger, the full body of Christ, not divided – ONE.
Through putting on Christ individually and as a community of Christians that’s how we can really love one another.
It’s all about love, friends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
I was hearing in my head, “when love is the way,” and realized it was from Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at Prince Harry and Megan’s wedding.
“Think and imagine a world where love is the way.”
Imagine our homes and families where love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way.
Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way.
Imagine this tired old world where love is the way. When love is the way – unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.
When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.
When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.
When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.
When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.
When love is the way, there’s plenty of good room – plenty good room – for all of God’s children.
“Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well… like we are actually family.
When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.”
When love is the way we wake up from our slumber, lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light and then, then we will be able to “put on” our Lord Jesus and love of our neighbors as ourselves.