July 22, 2023
Tomorrow is Sunday, and I still don’t know what I am preaching on. Actually, I do… I simply have a major editing project ahead of me. I’m thinking most folks do not wish to sit through a 90-minute sermon, and right now, that’s where it is. Actually, this is not a very uncommon occurrence for me. Sometimes a sermon, in the editing process, gets broken down into a sermon series, but there are other times when I make the cuts and simply put the non-used stories, quotes, Biblical interpretation, etc. in a file for later use.
Assuming everything comes together as planned, the sermon for tomorrow will focus on a word that I believe is too often misunderstood or outright avoided. The word is ‘godliness,’ and I think too many of us associate the word with a sort of snooty, puritan, highly moralistic attitude. I can see that, yet the Greek word we translate as godliness is eusebeian (εὐσέβειαν), which probably doesn’t quite mean what we think it means. It has more to do with knowing the WHAT and the WHY we believe what we believe and do what we do. I appreciate two translations of this section of scripture that better communicate what I believe was intended. They are:
J.D. Philips - “He has by his own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness.”
The Message - "Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God.”
J.D. Philips translated the word as the truly good life, which ultimately is a reflection of God’s glorious goodness made real in Jesus. And The Message (a translation done by Eugene Peterson) describes it as a life pleasing to God that comes from knowing Jesus personally and intimately.
In the long run, people are probably going to be more responsive if the church does not tell them to show more godliness, but instead invites them to know God through Jesus, and then encourages them to explore what it means to prioritize the ways of Jesus. In the end, it should help people know WHAT and WHY they believe what they believe and do what they do.
Guide me, Great God of Heaven, into a deeper appreciation of Jesus—his life and teachings, his death and resurrection. I desire to live a good life, reflective of your goodness, and I believe this will come through a personal and intimate connection to the Living Word, Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Bruce Frogge