Today is scripture reading Sunday where we take a moment to simply read from God’s word, have some insightful thoughts shared, along with a time of prayer after each reading. Personally, it is something I truly enjoy, not because I have a break from speaking, but because I get a chance to sit, listen and absorb along with you some marvelous truths found in God’s word. Today’s readings are found in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. Many believe this church which Paul writes to is the same church John speaks of in Revelation 2:1-6. After commending them for various things, he notes one thing of great concern, “But I have this against you: You have left the love you had in the beginning” (Revelation 2:4). In many ways, the things we will read today can help any church family from wandering from God’s truth and His amazing love.
Our first reading is Ephesians chapter four. The first thing that catches my attention is the exhortation to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (v1). The very next verse highlights the attitude which we are to bring into this godly task. The very idea of “bearing with one another” (v2) with the intent of fostering unity reveals that this is interpersonal. This unity is deeply rooted in singular concepts: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and “one God and Father of all” (6). These building blocks are critical to the well-being of God’s church. That said, we also come to realize our individual role each member plays in God’s wonderful design of His church. He has placed people in roles, giving them the task of moving us forward (vv11-12), helping us to grow “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v13). As we mature in Christ, we as a body of believers help to cause the church to grow as a body “for the edifying of itself in love” (v16). With this in mind, Paul goes on the exhort this church family to watch how they walk (vv17-18). I need to be reminded of this myself; you know, to watch where I am going. It is awfully easy to get caught up in this world and begin to walk in step with it instead of Him…right? So, Paul reminds them about what had taken place that day they gave themselves over to Christ, when they “put off” the “old man” and “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (v24). They had been “renewed in the spirit of your mind” (v23). With this newfound life in Christ, they were to live differently with one another and the world around them. All of it rooted in the forgiveness they had received through God in Christ (v32).
Our second reading picks up in Ephesians chapter 5. It is not surprising that after pointing them to Christ Paul encourages them to “be imitators of God” and “walk in love” (vv1-2). The reason is simple; because He “loved us” and has “given Himself for us” (v2). If there is any reason for all that we do as His church, this is it: Christ loved us and gave Himself for us! So, live for Him in your day to day lives. Don’t get caught up in the world around you, a world you once were part of before you came to Christ. The Holy Spirit made it clear, “Therefore do not be partakers with them” (v7). Instead, find “out what is acceptable to the Lord” (v10). I really like how the ETRV translates that verse, “Try to learn what pleases the Lord.” So, pay attention to things (i.e., walk circumspectly), taking advantage of all the Lord has to offer. This chapter ends with a conversation of how the church is like the marriage of a man and woman. Our relationship to Christ is seen in the beautiful relationship between a husband and a wife. Each one assuming a God given role and investing all that they can to be that which God desires. Such relationships are sacrificial in nature and mutually beneficial to all who trust in God’s design of them.
Our final reading today is Ephesians chapter 6. It picks up the conversation about relationships and just how important they are to the body of Christ. Children to their parents, fathers to their children, slaves to their masters as well as Christian masters to their slaves. Each relationship critical to the well-being of Christ’s church and thus, in need of purposed, Christ centered attention. Finally, with all this in mind, get ready for battle! There is a very real spiritual war the body of Christ is in. So, ready yourselves by putting on “the whole armor of God” (v11). This armor will enable the church to “stand against the whiles (NIV says, “schemes”) of the devil” (11). Each individual piece of armor has it purpose in helping to protect the body of Christ. With the armor on Paul writes, “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (v18, NIV). Pray for each other! It makes a difference!
As this chapter closes and with it this letter to the Ephesian church, the apostle Paul reveals to us the importance of staying connected with them. He sends Tychicus for the purpose of informing them about how Paul is doing and to encourage them as well. We all could use a little encouragement. I end this article the way Paul ends his letter, “Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (vv23-24). And the body of Christ says, amen!