26 November 2015Ephesians 4:32 – 5:8
"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." (5:1-2)
Psalm: Psalm 135:1-7
Despite some doubts about whether Ephesians was written by Paul,
or even if it was written to the people of Ephesus, it has been
seen through the centuries as a letter of hope and challenge for
churches and individuals.
Within this passage, which at first glance appears to be rules and regulations (the end of a list for the "new life" and the start of what needs to be renounced from pagan life), we find the above two verses.
Put aside for a moment the human desire for detailed rules regulating behaviour and imagine how different the world would be if we all desired to imitate God as revealed in Jesus. Perhaps that sounds too daunting, so imagine instead being a loved child who shares that love with their siblings. Although this still seems daunting there is a way we can do it. Jesus set the example for us during his earthly life.
But maybe there is a trend here. Disciples start with the goal of following Jesus and then gradually add rules and regulations to be sure they are doing the right thing. One of the casualties that might result from this is reconciliation. Rules and regulations tend to create barriers - those who are in and those who are out. If, instead, we aim to imitate God, living in love as Christ loved, then like Christ we will be reconcilers, reaching out to those who fall outside the rules. We will be bringing hope and new life to those who are excluded and welcoming them as our sisters and brothers.
Of course another reason for rules is to be sure we know who is in the wrong - who has no place in the kingdom - but verse 5 reminds us that this is not our concern but God's. Our task is to love and let God handle the rest. (Thank God for that!)
- What rules have you created to protect yourself from the challenge of imitating God and loving as Jesus loved?
- Which rules in your community exclude people and which include?
- What might you do differently today so that others might see you living in love as Jesus did?