NASHVILLE (BP) -- This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week's Bible study is adapted from the YOU curriculum.

Bible Passage: Ephesians 4:13b-24

Discussion Questions: How are believers called to live? To what extent is Christ the center of your life?

Food for Thought:

Have you ever driven a car that wandered off the road? Or tried to control a vehicle that pulled to the left or the right? How about one with tires that wore out too rapidly or unevenly? If so, your wheels were probably out of alignment. Christians, like cars, need to stay aligned with Christ and centered on the road to glory. However, we live in a world filled with potholes and pitfalls. Intolerant people can try to get us off track, off-center. How should we respond to them? The best way is by living a Christ-centered life.

Visualize a laundry basket full of dirty clothes. The clothes are taken out of the basket and placed in a washing machine. The machine is turned on and the cycle begins, but then something happens. The load gets off-center. The machine will not function properly until someone separates the tangled garments and gets the load back on-center. Believers live in a world that threatens to keep them from being centered on Christ. It is easy to become tangled in the ways of the world through intolerant people.

The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote to the Ephesian believers. He wrote to encourage them after hearing of the challenges they faced in confrontation with other religions and philosophies of the day.

The Ephesians were relatively new believers, just beginning to mature in their walk with Christ. And they were trying to spiritually mature in a city where every conceivable form of sin abounded. In chapter 4, Paul encouraged them to focus on three things: 1) Mature in Christ; 2) Reject the ways of the world, and 3) Live pure. By doing so, they would be able to stand up to false teaching and other influences that threatened to get them off track, off-center.

In verse 14, Paul noted two illustrations of what happens when believers work together. Individual believers grow from infancy (little children) to adulthood ("a mature man," 4:13), and believers who work together will not be like a storm-tossed boat, upset by the waves and blown around by every wind.

Paul points out that the cure for immaturity and instability is speaking the truth in love -- with compassion and understanding (v. 15). When members of a church intentionally embrace both truth and love, they will grow in every way in Christ and reject the false teachings mentioned in verse 14.

There is help for living a Christ-centered life in a world that tries to stretch its boundaries outside God's principles. Earthly desires or lusts we have are deceitful. They promise one thing but deliver another. In contrast, we are to be made new in the attitude of our minds. How? You are what you think. You move in the direction of what you put into your mind and on that which you allow your mind to dwell. So if you are not what you want to be, then you must begin to think differently.

If you are to think differently and stay Christ-centered, you must put into your mind that which you want to become. If you do, the Holy Spirit will use it to change you and keep you Christ-centered. Remember, believers cannot accept everything. We are called to live in ways that are different from the ways of non-believers.

YOU curriculum

Intentionally focused on African American, urban and multicultural believers, YOU is biblically based with culturally relevant and affirming lessons to help people connect, grow, serve and ultimately be engaged in impacting the world for Christ. This flexible, non-dated all-in-one quarterly resource offers weekly Bible study for leaders and learners, devotionals, teaching plans and articles on hot topics and missions. For additional online teaching resources, visit LifeWay.com/YOU.

Other ongoing Bible study options offered by LifeWay for all ages can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.

Ken Braddy, manager of adult ongoing Bible studies for LifeWay Christian Resources, blogs at sundayschoolguy.wordpress.com.

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