Friday, March 28, 2014

     

Living by the Light                              

 

Ephesians 5:8-20                  
 

What a picture of blessedness the letter to the Ephesians presents! Everyone is at home in this community "rooted and grounded in love," as Christ is at home in people's hearts. "Home" (oikos) and "co-, together" words abound: "for you [non-Jews] are no longer aliens and transients (xenoi kai paroikoi)but you are co-citizens with the saints and God's home folks (oikeioi) [2:19] and you are being co-built (sun-oikodomeisthe) into God's dwelling place (katoiketerion tou theou ) [2:22]"  Again, "the Gentiles are co-heirs and co-body and co-sharers of the gospel promise in Christ Jesus." [3:6] 

 

All this com-munity, being tied together, as the imprisoned "Paul" writes, "in the bond of peace," culminates in sharing "one body and one spirit, just as also you are called by one hope of your calling, one lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all . . . " [4:4-6]

 

Inclusive, unified, and harmonious even to the point of speaking to one another in spiritual songs - what's the catch? 

 

The mark, or the price, of peace within the new household/community, which models its situation in the wider world, seems to be con-formity to the rules scattered throughout the letter, rules that set the community apart from the vanity and wickedness of the old life outside.  One can't quibble with the fundamental rule: "Live as children of light, for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and rightness and truth."  But Paul - must we give up our pop music and wine?  Worse yet, must the peace of the home and community be built on the submission of wives, children, and slaves to their masters? [5:21-6:9] Or, if we take the admonition to "live . . . testing/proving what is pleasing to the Lord" by exposing everything to the light as an opening for cherry picking among the rules, do we violate the household's peace and harmony?

Dr. Polly Coote
SFTS Former Faculty/Staff