Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Narrow Way - Ephesians 5 (part 1)

Click the banner to read Ephesians 5
This passage continues exactly where the previous chapter left off. Our behaviour as adopted children of God should reflect the character and nature of our Father. All of the behaviours that are illuminated in these passages profoundly affect the quality of community life. Paul is interested in how we treat each other, now that we all share life together. The book of Ephesians was one continuous letter, and meant to be read and understood as a whole. Consider the first verses of chapter five in the context of the verses which came before them:

Ephesians 4:29-5:2
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Our response to other people in God's community is an imitation of God's work in our lives. Because God forgave us, we are to forgive others. Because God welcomed us into community, we welcome others with love. Because Jesus gave himself up on our behalf so that we could be with him, we also put other people first in order to make a way for them.

This is the core of the matter for this entire chapter. Just as he began describing in chapter four, now that we belong to God, by faith we must start walking according to the new life God has freed us to experience. We are legally placed in the heavenly realms in Christ. Now we must manifest the truth of this reality by living as children of light. Once we were dead in sin, now we are alive. We minister that life to everyone around us. Our lives and our relationships to others preach the reality of the gospel, and the life of Jesus in us.

Ephesians 5:1-2
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Because we are so dearly loved by our new Father, we should take him and our older brother as our new role models. Jesus was both dearly loving toward us and humbly submitted to his Father. Our lives were purchased with his. Our lives, therefore, can now be freely offered to our loving God as a living offering to him.

Ephesians 5:8
...for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

God is light. In him is no darkness at all. We are now God's children, children of light. We no longer hide and deceive as we once did. Our entire beings are exposed in his presence. We do not feel ashamed. We live humbly, allowing ourselves, our new selves, our true selves, to be seen by God and others. We have nothing to hide, because our life reflects God-life, in justice, righteousness, and love.

Ephesians 5:20-21
…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Christ submitted himself to God the Father. He considered us before himself by willingly going to the cross. In Christ, we also live humbly among those he redeemed. We also put them first, not demanding our own way or fighting for our individual rights. We have no hierarchy in Christ's body. Only he is the rabbi. We are all disciples. We have the same Spirit, and he speaks through any and all of us to any and all of us.
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