At our last Evenings @ The Corner we had a bible reading from the book of Ephesians. This month we also have a reading from the book of Ephesians.
Just a quick recap to remind you of some of background and context about Ephesians.
We call it a book, but its’ actually a letter. A letter that was written to the people of Ephesus, after Jesus had died, risen again, and gone to be with God. And it was written by one of Jesus followers. The people of Ephesus were trying to figure out what it meant to be Christians and what it looked like to be a church.
Last month we talked about how the letter reminded them that God’s love and welcome was everyone. Including Jews and non Jews, called in the bible Gentiles.
This months reading comes from a later part in the letter. It comes from Chapter 4 verse 25 and goes until Chapter 5 verse 2.
Before I talk about it, maybe we should read it first:
25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. Through God we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
26-27 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give anger that kind of hold in your life.
28 Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.
29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break God’s heart. God’s Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, make yourself fit for God. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
5 1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with God and learn a life of love. Observe how Jesus 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.Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2
What we seem to have here is a bit of a list. A list of things behaviours and actions. Maybe a guideline for us to follow?
You may have noticed it starts with the words ‘What this adds up to then’. That sounds a bit like we have come in middle of a conversation or a thought, and we kind of have. This happens a bit in the bible. And it kind of makes sense if we remember this is part of a letter we are reading. All the different parts connect to each other and inform each other.
So to try and understand our bible reading today, we need to look at what came before it. Just before Chapter 4 verse 25, the letter is talking about a new life, a new way to live. That Christians, as followers of Jesus are called to live life differently than the rest of the world. So it makes sense that this bible reading is telling us how we live differently, how we live a new life.
Maybe these things are what God seeing as Living a Good Life.
Now this list isn’t a list of commands, or strict rules, that we will receive punishment for not obeying. I see it more as an invitation. God, through Jesus invites us to life differently. We get to choose if we want to follow.
These guides aren’t just about how we live individual lives. The letter to the Ephesians was also written to tell people about how to live in community with each other. These guides are for helping us to Live a Good Life, but it’s also to show us how to Live a Good Life with others.
Last month we spoke about all being in God’s family, and tonight is maybe how we live in that family. God wants good for us. God wants us to live our best lives.
These guides or these ways, or steps are all about that. Not about control or obedience or conformity, but about what God sees as the way for us to be Living a Good Life.
What do these ways, steps or guides look like in your life? What does it mean for you to be Living a Good Life?
You don’t have to make it to all the stations, you can just do a couple if you want. Some are quiet and reflective, and some are a bit more energetic.
Consider putting some music on in the background. You might like slow and reflective, or something more upbeat. You could even try out Evenings @ The Corner Playlist on Spotify embedded on the right >
Once you’ve completed the stations, a conclusion can be found below.
Click on the name of the prayer station in the list below to access the full reflection
No more lies, no more pretence. Tell your neighbour the truth. Through God we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Ephesians 4:25
This isn’t an invitation to say everything you are thinking, but it is saying that being truthful is good for us and good for our relationships and our communities.
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give anger that kind of hold on your life. Ephesians 4:26-27
Anger is ok, it happens, it’s normal. But don’t let it be used to hurt others. Work through it, process it, and maybe even do something good with it.
Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work. Ephesians 4:28
Remember this was written two thousand years ago, and this example stealing isn’t just about stealing. It’s about changing habits, behaviours, thoughts that hurt others or hurt ourselves. Work on growing, on changing them, and more than that when you are ready work on helping others too.
Don’t grieve God. Don’t break God’s heart. God’s Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, make yourself fit for God. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Ephesians 4:30
God has given us so many things, including the gift of God’s presence with us, in the Holy Spirit. See and be thankful and grateful for the good things in our lives.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn behaviour from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with God and learn a life of love. Observe how Jesus 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. Ephesians 5:1-2
We have an example of how to live, someone who lived here in the world. Jesus. Look at Jesus’ life, see his actions, and try and follow.
I bet if we went around this room and asked what it means to be ‘Living a Good Life’ we would gets lots of really different answers. This is because living a good life looks different to everyone. We have different lives, different circumstances, different challenges and difficulties.
Living a Good Life even looks different to what it meant to the people of Ephesus when the letter was written to them almost 2000 years ago.
Our bible reading was giving us the broad strokes. What each of these looks like in your life is individual.
This might seem really obvious to some people.
But sometimes we can have a clear idea of what Living a Good Life looks like to us, and we can judge others if they aren’t living life like us.
Remember God offers this new way of living as an invitation, not as a mandate. So it’s also not up to us to require others to live the same way.
But our own lives, our own work of Living a Good Life can be an example to others. It can be an invitation for others to think about following Jesus and Living a Good Life.