Living in the World (# 1068)

1 10 2016

1. Tomorrow is the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost and the Epistle is Ephesians 5:15-21. The following is from the J.B. Phillips translation:

Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God. Don’t get your stimulus from wine (for there is always the danger of excessive drinking), but let the Spirit stimulate your souls. Express your joy in singing among yourselves psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of God! Thank God at all times for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And “fit in with” each other, because of your common reverence for Christ.

Interestingly, many scholars believe on stylistic grounds that the writer of this epistle was not Paul. Based on the main ideas, it is felt the letter was a logical development of Paul’s thought, and so, it is believed author of the epistle to the Ephesians may have been a follower of Paul, with him during his last days of Rome. The book emphasizes that the church is the body of Christ with a mission to unite all nations and races. Our passage is a summary of a larger section (Ephesians 4:17-5:21) in which the writer urges the readers to have done with pagan ways.

In our passage today, the author is writing to the Christians of Ephesos on how to live in their current society. He is not telling them to leave society; he is not exhorting them to change society; he is not even encouraging them to change society. He is speaking to them as individuals to make the best use of their time and to follow the “will of God”. Presumably the reference to drinking is to practices of the Greek and Roman religions, especially the worshipers of Bacchus. The author felt there no need for external stimulants; they can find their own ecstasy in music. Presumably they would not get drunk on song although some felt that Abraham was drunk on God when he set off to sacrifice his only son.

Some Christians today have become very judgmental about society and the so called left. They have forgotten the call to unite nations and races and instead have become insular and defensive. They have forgotten love and compassion. They go through the motions of thanking God but do have forgotten true gratitude for their daily life. Some prefer a habitual liar, braggart and dishonest businessman because of a fear that they may be compelled not to discriminate against fellow human beings, or that some of these beings may share in the benefits offered by the country. They forget that they and their neighbors benefit and may benefit greatly from these same programs. Concentrate on your own spirituality and let your fellow being concentrate on his or hers.

Ahh, I have been a bit preachy today. This may be because I am saddened to see the state that Christianity is in today, congregations shrinking along with clergy. It is not exterior forces that threaten Christianity but rather the practice of intolerance and hate in the name of religion among some of “Christian” leaders. Someone once said religion and politics do not mix. This is especially in the absence of love and compassion for all our fellow beings.

2. Today is a gift; I only need to remember that.

3. Living in the present, I try to set aside my worrying about the past and future.

4. The Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14 is somewhat problematic or bewildering. Maybe I will try to take that up tomorrow.

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