Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Be careful how you live

Ephesians 5:1-20  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them.  For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light--  for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly;  but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,  for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."  Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise,  making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit,  as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts,  giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesus was a commercial port at the mouth of the Cayster River on the west coast of the Roman province of Asia. An added attraction of Ephesus was the temple of the Greek goddess Artemis, who in the Latin language was called Diana. Paul began his ministry in a synagogue in the city (Acts 19:8), but turned to the Gentiles when the Jewish leadership began persecuting those who believed in Jesus. From Ephesus the Gospel spread throughout the whole province of Asia (Acts 19:10).

The community who followed Jesus was therefore in the spotlight. They were a “mother church’ to the rest of Asia Minor. The potential of their witness to the people who travelled the trade routes was immense. And there was an opportunity to share the teachings and life of Jesus with those who came to find faith in the religious culture of Ephesus. For this reason Paul writes: “Be careful then how you live.”  He then spells out various suggestions about the way followers of Jesus ought to behave – but the central thrust is that we ought to live in Jesus honouring ways.
Let us allow ourselves to live with the awareness that we are being watched.


O Master, let me walk with thee
in lowly paths of service free;
tell me thy secret; help me bear
the strain of toil, the fret of care.
Help me the slow of heart to move
by some clear, winning word of love;
teach me the wayward feet to stay,
and guide them in the homeward way.

Washington Gladden, 1836-1918


Fifth  Sunday of Easter
Love is the Sign
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.167




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