War & Peace
When I read passages like Ephesians 5, I am confused.
On the one hand, Paul writes as if there is a war-like urgency to the Christian life – Be wise, not foolish. Make the most of every opportunity. The days are evil. Understand what the Lord’s will is. Don’t impair your judgment with alcohol.
On the other hand, he writes as if there is a peace-like thanksgiving to the Christian life – Be filled with the Spirit. Sing hymns to each other. Let your heart fill up with song to God. Give thanks for everything.
Which is it, Paul – war or peace? Do we live in the midst of an on-going battle or in a victorious peace?
Both. The Lord has already won the war, but the final peace does not yet reign.
Yet, in practice, what does this look like? Is Paul’s head in the clouds when he tells the Ephesians to give thanks in the evil days?
Paul & Evil
Paul was well acquainted with evil days. He wrestled with his own sin (Romans 7) and he felt the sins of others when he was stoned, beaten and imprisoned. In fact, Paul wrote Ephesians while in Roman prison (AD 62) and he had already experienced extreme suffering (2 Corinthians 11:24-27, written before Ephesians).
Since the days are evil, we must be careful in how we think and how we walk. We must guard ourselves in Christ and repeatedly choose to love and to live righteously.
Paul & Thanksgiving
We also must be thankful for everything. He doesn’t say to be thankful in everything nor to be content with injustice nor to chin-up at cancer. Yet, he does say to be thankful for everything.
I’m not going to pretend to know how to live this out. In fact, I’d welcome your advice. I do know, however, that nothing is impossible with God and that, in Christ, we have the life of God living in us through the Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God, which are rooted in sovereignty and goodness.
Evil & Thanksgiving
As the enemy draws close, let us sing hymns like the Haitians did in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and as Paul and Silas did in jail, awaiting their fate. Let us smile with light hearts as we’re made foolish. Let us be thankful for everything since we await a victorious outcome after this life of vigilant living.