”…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Where do such words find a voice today? Certainly not in the cultural chorus of jaded cynicism which mocks just about everything on Paul’s list. After all, worldliness is chic, hip. Vulgarity is cool. Paul’s list of terms belong to a world of Pollyannas and fifties sitcoms. We all know that in the “real world” there is no room for the language of innocence. Right?
Wrong. The “real world” is an expression which actually describes the fallen, unreal world where innocence is not at home and the most intimate of fellowships is the fellowship of sin. In that world, the language works like this:
“Whatever is false, whatever is dishonorable, whatever is unjust, whatever is ugly, whatever is merciless, if there is anything debased, if there anything worthy of ridicule, think about these things.”
This is the sort of language politicians use to dig up the dirt on one another. This is the language of the “unreal world” but it is not the language of faith.
Paul knew that the freedom won for us in Christ Jesus restores a kind of innocence to living, to our thoughts, words and actions. Faith gives expression to that freedom; the freedom to love as we have been loved, the freedom to affirm, enjoy and reflect with gratitude on what is good in life, the freedom to look ahead in confident hope to the restoration of the real world, where God’s children will live in innocence, righteousness and blessedness forever.
Gives you something to think about, doesn’t it.