In this letter to the Ephesians, Paul is continuing to instruct believers on
how they are to live in community, that is as the church. Again these
instructions are specific. Some we have heard before but in a slightly
different way. Again, in today’s reading, we have the same formula as last
week; do not……but do….because. This is an important formula because
Paul gives us the motivation to do these things. The reasons are in many
cases self explanatory even in today’s world. Three things stand out.
“Have nothing to do with deeds of darkness….live as children of light”
(v11, 13). The contrast is powerful. It is in darkness that shameful and
ungodly behaviour thrive because it is thought these acts will not be seen.
Paul encourages us to live as children of light for the fruit of light
consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth (vs 8,9).
“Be filled with the Spirit’ (v 18). A short verse but one that has wide
ranging effects. Being filled with the Spirit is a mark of being a
Christian. It is the Spirit that controls, motivates, empowers and directs
the life of the believer. As we are filled with the Spirit we convey the
presence of Christ because the Spirit is in union with Christ.
“Submit to one another” (v21). This is often seen as an offensive statement
especially when linked with the next verse that calls for wives to submit to
their husbands! Yet the call is for everyone to reject self-centredness and
work for the good of the other. We are not being doormats. Instead we are
making a conscious decision to forgo our own self interest so that someone
else’s needs can be fulfilled. Mutual submission is a better option because
the whole community benefits.