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Sunday Message for 14 March 2021: “Resist Soulessness”

Ephesians 2:1-10 is the basis for the first-half of today’s message. Here, Paul reveals the spiritual status of his audience prior to their conversion: “You were dead through the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). The passage emphasizes how lack of a spiritual life results in a living death.

Contributing to the living death Paul mentions is a distracting illusion, one which substitutes a hectic, materialistic life for true spirituality. The good news is that God offers a rescue plan, a redemption through love, mercy and grace which restores spiritual health.

The distractions of daily life imperil spiritual health, which is at the core of a person’s relationship with God. This means that one of the greatest daily challenges is recognizing the need for cultivating awareness and renewal. Absent a healthy spiritual life you will fall victim to a state of degradation concealed under a veneer of denial and normalcy. No matter what else is going well in life, without spiritual health there is little chance to experience a deep wellbeing.

Paul’s writing underscores a continuing problem: how can you be alive and dead at the same time?  The situation outlined by Paul refers to a virtual death, a status where a person is alive biologically but dead spiritually. Something akin to this status is known in pop culture as zombification. This means that many people subsist within a flurry of outward activity but inwardly they are rotten. At its worse, this status is analogous to a zombie lurching impulsively without the inner peace of a spirit-filled life.

Aside from their ferociousness, another problem with zombies is their lack of soulfulness. This is similar in the real world, where people are animated by success and pleasures yet neglecting soul-food, which is foremost living a life that cares for other living beings in a compassionate manner.  Even many outwardly cheerful people can be eaten alive on the inside, harboring fatal appetites that ultimately consume themselves and others just as in the Hollywood version of a zombie apocalypse.

Perhaps as nightmarish as a blood-hungry zombie is a less obvious monster, one hidden within, concealed by a pleasant yet silent complacency and apathy. But make no mistake because inattention to life’s priorities is just as threatening and even more dangerous than the virulent bite of an undead monster. God’s message is clear: awaken! Life is precious and every moment is an opportunity for sharing the love and truth needed by injured humanity.

The metaphorical demons pursuing you are often masked by a veneer of normalcy and a layer of denial. The most horrifying creatures seeking to consume you are, like all such specters, intent on devouring you from the inside/out. Resistance to such a living death comes from the antidote of love, God’s core and the most powerful force in the universe. You can talk about love, even feel its force, yet resist transformation and thereby fall prey to literal and figurative predators.

The second-half of today’s message comes from an iconic verse from John’s gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). Contemporary Christianity has invested these words with superlative significance. Modern American Christendom is inextricably combined with the talk, if not the walk, of God’s love. Love is the timeless, pervasive reality of the universe. God’s love is the promise and power to set humans free from the horror of a soul-less existence.

As you receive and share love you are achieving God’s plan. Redemption rather than destruction is humanity’s optimal path. The key to this spiritual vitality is a transition from darkness to light, from death’s despair to God’s gracious glow. The marvelous transformation entails a journey lasting your entire life. This is how investing yourself in the power of God’s love activates a life of holistic wellbeing, a state of health in mind, body and spirit.

Coming to the light is more than just another metaphor. Embrace daily the salvation for which there is no substitute. Sadly, many people experience a dreary life of fear, ignorance and anger. Trust God for your cleansing and healing as you embrace the illuminating presence of the Almighty.

By all means heed Paul’s words and resist spiritual death. Embrace a renewed life as you awaken to the reality that you are a child of God. Resist the living dead, those who lurch and devour but who have no inward life. Also embrace that great love narrated by John’s gospel. Declare to share with others the great love that God is accomplishing in you.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

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