Monthly Archives: June 2012

6-26-12 Ephesians 6 (16)

Today we discussed Ephesians 6. There are a number of noteworthy aspects to this chapter. In the opening section Paul discusses how children should have respect for their parents, and the parents for their children and then he does the same thing for employers and their servents/slaves/employees. A second major part and very important is to put on the whole armor of Christ in our sturggle to live our lives in God. This chapter concludes the book of Ephesians.

 

We spent some time discussing the meaing of the first section on how to treat children, parents, employers, and employees. It was pointed out that Paul was suggesting that the gospel of Christ made it possible for anyone to come to Christ irrespective of their status or position. This does not mean that Paul was suggesting that we change the way the society operated. Some people in civil war times used this passage to justify slavery. Mark and Bill suggested the example of Vermeer as a company they thought was following Paul’s advice about respect between employer and employees. They gave several examples of ways in which this respect and consideration was demonstrated in the history of the company. Some suggested that employers can do this better in good times and sometimes they do it to avoid having a union. But truly enlightened employers do it for the good of all and not necessarily to avoid dissadent structures that create problems in the company.

 

Next week we will go back to Genesis and read about Abraham. The plan is to read Genesis through chapter 25, the death of Abraham.

6-19-12 Ephesians 5

The Lutheran Study Bible in a footnote says that “Like the Ephesians, we are confronted every dayby a world rebelling against God’s way. In our struggle against its temptations, we can rely on Christ’s word and spirit to lead us. Lord, strengthen me to speak and act as You desire. Replace all the foul talk from my mouth with praise for You and encouragement for my brothers and sisters in Christ.” Paul was telling the people at that time that it was wrong to live the way that lots of people were living then. Today we face the same issues and need to be strong in Christ in order to resist the temptations of the world. It is quite remarkable how similar the people then were to the people today. You might think that when man was created, there was a faulty design! But Paul urges them and us to walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.) Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. When things are exposed to the light they are visible to all to see. This is how we need to lead our lives. We often have questioned how the scriptures help us today. These writings by Paul surely are as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago.

The other major part of this chapter deals with the relationships between men and women as well as other relationships between people. Paul states that the husband should be the head of the household and wives should submit to their husbands, but that doesn’t mean that the husband should lord it over the wife. He says that husbands should love their wives and give himself up for her. That doesn’t sound like Paul expected the wife to be treated as a slave to the husband, but rather that they should be a loving couple each with different roles but equally responsible for making their relationship work. Husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies.  The comparison with Christ and the church is very instructive. He wants the relationship between a husband and wife to be similar to the relationship between Christ and the church.

Peterson in the Message starts this chapter as follows: “Watch what God does and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us, but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Peterson makes a big point that we shouldn’t be doing useless work, as he calls it the barren pursuit of darkness. He says it is a shame when people waste their lives on things they must do in darkness. He says, Christ will show you the light.

Peterson in verses 22-24 says, “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show you support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. :

and then in verses 25-28, he says, “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church — a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to being the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.”

So it is not a matter of who is in charge and should bully the other partner in a marriage, but rather, it should be mutual love between a husband and wife supporting and loving each other.

6-12-12 Ephesians 4 (15)

Ephesians 4 is significant for its proclamations of exclusivity (v. 4-5), for its appeal to unity (v. 3 and 13) and for the admonitions directed at leaving the sinful life and maturing into the fullness of Christ.  Pastor Mark remarked that the Greek word for unity appears twice in Ephesians (v. 3, 13)and otherwise nowhere in scripture. For Mark, Ephesians 4 is meaningful for developing a “household of faith.” It contains an important message about how we live together and treat each other.

Al conjectured that the author’s words are targeted at gentiles who are being encouraged to undertake the passage from a life of ignorance, treachery and licentiousness into the maturity of faith in Christ. The proper functioning of all the parts of the human body serves as a key metaphor for the body of Christ building itself up in love.

Frank remarked about how lofty the agenda is, how high the goals have been set, and, in reflecting on his own life, the despair that he cannot live up to them.  Gene added that we all, under careful examination, fall short in so many ways.

This led to a discussion about how the church itself has fallen short. Perhaps it can be said that there is a certain unity in the fact that we are all Christians. At the same time what must be acknowledged is that there is a significant amount of dissension and fracturing within the “body of Christ,” to the extent that the metaphor of a properly working body is arguably inappropriate. Several examples were brought up of conflicts within specific churches and within the ELCA. Is this a result, as Chuck opined, of absolutes being too watered down?

Mark wondered how the outside world views the Christian community.  Do we in fact have integrity? Have we earned the position of moral leadership?  Do we have any right to expect that members of other religions would find the Christian message compelling?  What does it mean if this message is rejected? At least Ephesians 4 is pretty clear about what is the one true faith, but what do we, must we, believe?  Mark, for one, says he is not in the business of judging. Me neither.

The proper functioning of all the parts of the human body serves as a key metaphor on June 5, 2012 Ephesians 3 (15).

Submitted by John Grunstad

06-05-12 Ephesians 3 (15)

In Ephesians 3, we find several elements. Paul talks about being a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of the Gentiles. He tells how he has been made a minister to preach to the Gentiles and tell them of the riches of Jesus Christ.He concludes with a prayer for spiritual strength. Mark had some difficulty getting a conversation going this morning.There were a number of questions raised and issues discussed from the encyclicals of the popes and how they came into being like the bringing to light of Micah 6:8 in view of the fight for justice in Salvador and the death of the bishop there.

Items to consider: (you can respond with comments to fill in the ideas suggested here.)

I Timothy 2:5 What is being urged here is simply love. Love that is uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith. This opens our life to God and allows us to follow His will, not the counterfeit actions of the world. This reinforces what Paul was saying in Ephesians 3.

The Ancients have stolen our best ideas. I think frequently that with all we have discovered with modern science that we are much smarter than the ancient peoples. But we frequently find that the thoughts that the ancients had were every bit as good as what we have today. They like we had to solve the problems of the day. As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” I hate to think of the time it would take me to figure out how to determine the path of sun, moon, stars, and planets as many of the ancient peoples were able to do. Many of the philosophical thoughts were also very applicable for us even today. We may think of how Paul formulated the philosophy that we follow today, even in those troubled times when only bits and fragments were available to him. He was an amazing man as were many of his colleagues.

Does God want us to agree on everything? I think that God knows that people will disagree about various things and some of these things are very important, but the important thing is that we believe in Christ and live our lives according to the example he set on how we should live and treat others who interact with us in our lives.

Steve H. asked why God sent Jesus when he did and how he reveled himself since then and before for that matter. Mark volunteered that God’s presence is furthered by our continuing presence and witness through our conversations with lots of other people. Thus we witness to them as well. Jesus raised questions that he left unanswered and Peter and Paul came along and filled in lots of blanks. Christians have been filling in the blanks ever since in ways that follow the teachings of Christ. Think how extrordinary it is that a man lived 2000 years ago and we are still trying to discern how to interpret His teachings and trying to live our lives according to his teachings.