Dear Hope Family,
The Bible as a whole and the book of Ephesians in particular press us into difficult places and ask us to hold in balance and tension competing realities, one of which is the unending struggle to live in the world and yet not be shaped and driven by the world’s ideals and values.
Greg Beale reflects that “worldliness is whatever any culture does to make sin seem normal and righteousness to be strange.” So in one sense we are to stand against the worldliness that ignores or devalues God’s goodness and authority. We distance ourselves from the cancer of idolatry and the fallout that surely results from it.
Christopher Wright reflects that “mission means inviting all the peoples of the earth to hear the music of God’s future and dance to it today.” So in another sense we are called to be in close enough relationship to the world that the distinctive tune of the Gospel can be heard and treasured by those dancing to their own rhythms and authority.
But which one is it? Distant or close? Retreat or immersion? Safe or at risk?
In Ephesians 5, Paul points us to the gracious, wise model of Christ. His love led him to engage the world at ultimate risk to himself, and his light led him to expose the darkness of the world and sin for what they really are. He stood close enough to communicate care and dignity as well as to prove his love so that when he stood against sin and darkness he could be trusted that his chief aim was to have his redeemed children stand with him forever.
We will never solve the riddle and relieve the tension! But we have the grace and power of the one who holds us in a way that we can never fall.
Grace and peace,