Death or Life
Ephesus was a hub of commerce, trade, and travel. Being such, it was highly influenced by the cultures, religions, and traditions of the many peoples that stopped there. Some brought their practices of indulging in many things -- food, sex, drink, and money. All of these were terrible distractions from the upright living the Christians -- quite a newly formed group -- were struggling to engage in.
Paul wrote to encourage them in their efforts, and to acknowledge how challenging it can be to live among other cultures and religions. What better way than to recognize the slow death of indulgent living versus the growing life of living for purity, justice, peace, and love!
Experience tells me living for the flesh is much closer to death than living for the spirit. When I am caught up in my pursuit of food, drink, sex, or money, anxiety plagues me. When I am wrapped up in getting more stuff, there can never be enough. The more I have, the more I want. Desire leads only to the experience of lack. Death.
On the other hand, when I focus outward, express gratitude, do for others, practice mindfulness, keep calm -- these things bring me peace. The peace is life. I listen to these words of Paul to encourage me to continue pursuing the things of the spirit, and I live.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Ephesians 2:1-3
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.