PAXnorth has begun a series in EPHESIANS: REALITY CHECK
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus; Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Eph. 1:1,2
Canada 21st Century REAL LIFE
Influential– Globe and Mail stated in 2006 that there were some 500,000 intentional legal immigrants on a waiting list to enter the country (300,000 annually will be granted permission to enter).
Wealthy– Almost 3 billion people in our world today are eke out a life on less then $2 a day; 5% of the worlds population consume 80% of the worlds resources. In 2006, according to Stats Canada, the average Canadian household spent over 200 dollars annually on lotto tickets; while the average Canadian household giving to ALL charities was on average $250; the median total income of Canadian families (this is before taxes) in 2006 was $60,600. That means that the average Canadian home gives approx. 2.4% of their income towards charitable causes; Studies show that at the height of the Great Depression in North America the average household giving was 3.3% of income. Apparently having a greater capacity for wealth doesn’t lead us to greater generosity.
Celebrity/Entertainment Driven– In what other culture is a movie star, sports star, rock star’s opinion on any given issue (from parenting to politics to global warming) able to make front page news or sway votes or start billion dollar trends? We are celebrity obsessed!
Diverse Ideologies/ Philosophies – Postmodern dictum is a splintering of beliefs within one’s own life. The morals/values that might work for one moment might not work for another. The ethic that is believed by the high ideals of religions might be fine for the religious moments but there are moments when you just have to do what YOU feel is right. You are the authority over God or what ever gods there might be.
Sexually Inundated World View– If you take all of the annual salaries of all of the North American professional sports teams (CFL, NFL, MBL, NBA, etc) add them all together, they still would not total the amount of money spent in North America on pornography in one year. As a nation we hold a cultic pre-occupation with sexual images and messages.
EPHESUS 1st Century REAL WORLD
Influential – major ‘hub’ trade center (both by land and marine). It was called “the Jewel City of Asia Minor”. One of the first great metropolis of it’s time.
Wealthy– There was a treasury in the great Temple of Diana, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, in Ephesus. The temple was furnished by the finest marble quarries of its day, the greatest artisans of the day were responsible for the ornate carvings in the temple as well as on its one hundred and twenty-seven graceful columns, each column was a gift from a king. Here there has been discovered currency from all over the known ancient world. Mark Antony once demanded a 9 year back tax from the great city which was completely paid in only two years.
Celebrity/Entertainment Driven– It was the site of pagan Roman games and a great theatre, which was the largest in the world, capable of containing 50,000 spectators. It was, like all ancient theatres, open to the sky. Here were exhibited the fights of wild beasts and of men with beasts. Also Ephesus hosted festivities here as part of month long celebration of the fertility goddess Diana.
Diverse Ideologies/ Philosophies – One of the great philosophers and mathematicians of the city was a man named Alexander, his philosophy was so influential that they nicknamed him the Light. Yet his teachings were to look inside your self to connect with the light spark inside, to self realizations- all of which could be interpreted to make us all better people. A well known poet of the day, who was born in Ephesus was Hipponax, the Bitter. One of his popular ideologies is expressed in his writings, “There are two happy days in a man’s life: the one when he gets his wife, and the other when he buries her.” A famous painter who lived here was Parrharius, who believed that his paintings were inspired by the spirit world and used this as an opportunity to exploit others, live a conceited and indulgent life. The school of Tyrannus was also a place of higher learning in the city. Where all philosophies and arguments of philosophies were discussed, disciples of various philosophies were created, a sense of political correctness, and a climate of equal validity was given to all and every ideology.
Sexually Inundated Worldview– A place where part of their devotion and acts of worship was to engage in sexual activities with temple prostitutes/ or any others who came to the temple for an super natural experience of worship with the spirits, humans and goddesses of nature, and fertility- in month long orgies of perversion- all in the name of seeking experience. Ephesus was a culture that was bombarded with the worship of sexual figures, to the point of occultist devotion; A devotion that was lived out in the giving of their resources, their complete energy, their time and effort focused on self- gratification to the point of worship.
A culture that is continually bombarding its citizens with new ideas, philosophies and ‘entertainment’; violence, sexual images, twisted values about relationships and self indulgence! Get’s ticked off at the mention that there is a WAY (read Acts 19)! And that this Way changes the patterns of behavior, priorities, morals, spending habits, life styles of those who have entered into Him! REAL LIFE IN A REAL WORLD!
What’s the point of all this INFORMATION?! Despair? Hate? Pity? Wish for the ‘good ol days? Gather in our holy huddles and think of heaven while we close our eyes to a needy world? Grab your bull horns meet me down town on Saturday night so we can scream how righteous ‘we’ are and how unrighteous ‘they’ are?
“to the saints who are IN EPHESUS…and…IN CHRIST.”
This is the point of this amazing book- you have everything you need in Christ Jesus to live out a courageously attractive grace and a recklessly sure peace within YOUR world.
In my Greek New Testament Ephesus is in [brackets]. It is suspected that this book was circulated to all the churches in Asia Minor, then the city’s name was inserted in the brackets.
Real Life IN CHRIST …..IN [insert name of your community]!