(By Charles Kasenene, one of our Ministry Leaders)

Ephesians 5:1-21

People who have lived in more than one country often comment on how difficult it is to adapt to new cultures. Each nation has its own customs and laws and values, and, what is appropriate in one nation isn’t necessarily appropriate in others. Business people, tourists, and even missionaries have to spend a lot of time learning the ways of the new nation they are visiting.

In many ways, the same is true of the Christian life. We were all born outside of Christ, separated from His kingdom. Many of us spent years learning and following the ways of the kingdom of darkness. And this presents challenges for us as we try to live according to the ways of our new nation, our new kingdom: the kingdom of light in Christ, and our new family in Christ.

This challenge is nothing new. Even in the first century, Christians had to be taught how to live in ways that were appropriate for the kingdom of Christ. Many Christians had been converted from pagan religions. They had spent much of their lives following the ways of Satan before they came to faith in Christ. So, as the apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Ephesians, he directly addressed this challenge by painting a sweeping, cosmic portrait of life in the kingdom of God in Christ as led by the Spirit.

After showing us specifically how we are to put off the old way of life and put on the new man in Christ (in Ephesians 4), Paul sums up in one comprehensive command how this new culture is “put on” calling us to follow God’s example and to walk in love for one another, just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us (Ephesians 5:1-2). This is in stark contrast to the dark, foolish, and sexually immoral pagan culture they would have come from.

The late Dr Albert Schweitzer, famous missionary, medical doctor, and musician, was asked, “What is the best way to raise children?” He replied, “There are three ways: 1. By example; 2. By example; and 3. By example.” He was certainly right. By your actions, your words, and your attitudes in the home, your children learn to follow in your footsteps. The apostle knew this truth too well, and having already taught the church that they were adopted as children of God, sealed with the Holy Spirit now exhorts them to follow in God’s example in keeping with the family resemblance.

This section culminates in the command to continue being filled by the Spirit showing us that a Spirit-filled life is evidenced by a change in our “culture”, our thinking, and our behaviour outworked by loving one another. Paul puts it like this, “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”. Without the continuous filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives and church body none of this would be possible.

Are you living the Spirit-filled life?