Called to live in love, respect
The letter to the Church in Ephesus was written to help explain the mystery of a relationship with God. It was written to help us learn to live into the promise of that relationship. Ephesians was written to help the early church (and us) to create healthy communities that walk their talk and are a beacon of light for a world that is in darkness.
If we are to bring the light of Jesus into the world, the world needs to be able to look in our direction and see compelling and irrefutable evidence that we live our lives to a different standard; that God is at work in and among us in powerful ways.
The writer of Ephesians begs “. . . I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”(4:1b-3 NIV)
It does not matter who you are, anybody and everybody who has accepted Jesus into their lives, or is looking for a relationship with Jesus is welcomed into the community, and that means we are all called to live in unity with one another. Accept everyone into your community of faith and learn to live as a unified community, working hard to continue the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together.
Oh, that all sounds so nice, but the reality is that most of our religious communities are messy and difficult, full of different perspectives and different approaches. I’m pretty sure that all churches have suffered from disunity at some time in their history. If we are to build a faith community full of people from all different backgrounds and perspectives, we need to listen and put into practice the guidelines that were given to the Ephesians.
The writer of Ephesians wrote to the early church this beautiful passage found in Ephesians the qualities of a genuine faith community.
We are told to speak the truth in love; anger is an emotion but we need to deal with it immediately, don’t go to bed angry, so that we don’t hurt one another; keep tabs on what comes out of our mouths make sure any words you speak build up the community of faith. Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, slander, malice . . . and be kind to one another, always forgiving each other.
We are told in verses 26-27; “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Yoda, one of the George Lucas’ characters from the movie “Star Wars” says that: “Anger, fear, aggression... the dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”
It is commonly accepted by counselors, spiritual directors and therapists that anger is fear turned outward, when it is not acknowledged or accepted. Anger must be acknowledged and dealt with or we will definitely leave room for evil to enter.
If we were to live as the writer of Ephesians tells us, we would “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Jesus God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”(4:32-5:2 NIV)
We are all beloved children of God, may we live our lives by loving and respecting all our sisters and brothers no matter our differences. Amen.