May 1, 2015

by Bob Brockmann, MA, MSW

Ephesus, the city to which the Apostle Paul wrote his epistle, was a prominent city in western Asia Minor (now Turkey). The town had built a large harbor and was connected with various trade routes throughout the region. Because of this, Ephesus became a successful and sizable commercial center with a wide variety of ethnicity, culture and religion. We certainly can see some similarities with Ephesus in Paul’s time and America today. We live in a land of vast economic prosperity, unencumbered personal liberty and the unfettered pursuit of happiness. For the Christian, however, all these distractions can certainly come at a potential expense.

Paul evangelized in Ephesus for three years and the church apparently grew is size. Eventually, however, they became distracted and weakened in their faith after he left. While in Rome, Paul wrote a letter to the church to remind them who they are.

We are no different; as we continue in our faith from day to day and year to year the temptation to get comfortable will always exist. We forget who we are. A survey was complete last year by the Barna Group (a Christian research firm) that asked what types of temptation Americans battle against the most. The study concluded the top three Christian struggles were procrastination, overeating and spending too much time on media.

Paul broke his letter to the Ephesians into two very clear sections: The first three chapters explain how much we are loved by God. The second section, the remaining three chapters, states what we should then do with this knowledge. Paul does not begin his letter to reprimand the church for wrong doings nor does he begin with the law or dogma but instead speaks about our relationship with God. He reminds them who they are: they are blessed, chosen, loved, predestined, adopted, redeemed, and forgiven. All this is lavished upon us in God’s perfect grace and mercy. Paul wanted the Ephesian’s to remember who they are in Christ so they can then apply these truths to their actions and lifestyle.

It is worth noting, the first words in chapter four is “therefore” and the first words in chapter five contain “therefore”. Because of what Christ has done and how much we are loved, we should therefore walk in a manner worth of our calling. Therefore, we should be imitators of God and walk in love as Christ loved us. Paul argues because Christ first loved us and was a sacrifice for our sake we should therefore be like him and love one another. The book of Ephesians does hit on a wide range of moral and ethical behaviors but Paul presents the law in the context of how much we are loved.

Anger, pride, anxiety and greed are all temptations we face each day. We as Christians must not forget who we are and we need the reminder that Paul gives us in Ephesians. His message in Christ provides us much hope and comfort in a world that is otherwise filled with distractions of all kinds.