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by Tom Richards
Today’s reading is taken from Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. Ephesus was one of the most important cities in western Asia (modern-day Turkey) in the first century. It was at an intersection of major trade routes and therefore a commercial center. In addition, it was the home of the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Artemis was a goddess of fertility and was “served” by temple prostitutes leading to a very depraved culture.
This was the environment the Ephesian church was planted in and perhaps the reason for Paul’s challenge to “live as children of light.” In Ephesians 5:3-4 Paul provides some background to our reading for today: “But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”
The believers in Ephesus certainly would have provided a clear witness for their faith in Jesus by rejecting the culture of their city and living in obedience to Christ. Their rejection of a highly sexualized culture and demonstration of “goodness, righteousness and truth” in their lives would have set them apart. Paul’s words seem to apply to the world we are living in -- perhaps more so than any time I can remember. If that is true, then it has never been more important that we as “children of light” act that way! Our daily lives can serve as a witness to those around us – both believers and unbelievers.
Perhaps it is good to consider the challenge in verse 14 that likely comes from a hymn sung by the early church: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Dear Jesus, show us how our daily lives can be a witness to all those we encounter, whether friend, family, co-worker, or stranger. Give us the willingness to make our lives a testimony to you and your love.