Being the church in the world, being a Christian “in the world but not of the world,” seems to be as hard now as it has ever been. As we have been working through the book of Ephesians on Sunday mornings, I’ve had lots of folks mention to me how very appropriate and much needed these lessons have been. Now I’ve been a preacher for over 35 years, and have taught on this great book, as the writer of Hebrews might say, in many ways and various places.
But I don’t remember this kind of reception. Or this plain of an application.
Perhaps that is because the world we are living in is more like the world of the first century than most any of us has ever experienced. The values the Holy Spirit called for in Ephesus contrasted so deeply with the values of their first century society. Surely that’s not the case today! Do the values the Holy Spirit calls for in us today contrast just as deeply with the values of our own 21st Century American society? Are they really that similar? What exactly is the message God wanted for the Ephesians—and wants for us?
- Spiritual blessings come only through being in Christ.
- Salvation comes only by grace through faith in Christ.
- All are sinners and are equally in need of that salvation and so are one in Christ.
- We are called to live a life that is worthy of the gift of salvation in Christ.
- Unity comes only in and through Christ, and we must maintain that unity.
- As a new creation in Christ I am called to turn away from the worldliness around me.
- Control my temper.
- Work honestly at my job as if I were working for the Lord.
- Share with others instead of adopting the materialism and greed of our culture.
- Use language that honors God and builds others up rather than tears them down.
- Forgive those who hurt me, rather than becoming bitter or getting even.
- Refuse to be sexually immoral.
- Worship God with gratitude and humility.
- Love, respect, and be faithful to my spouse.
- Obey our parents and others in authority in the Lord.
- Raise our children and grandchildren in the Lord.
- Fight the spiritual battle that’s all around us with spiritual weapons the Lord has given.
Hmmm. Yup. Guess our society is a lot like theirs was. And the call to faithful values and godly living is exactly the same call.
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)