Summary: This section of Ephesians gives us ethical instruction which is just as valid today as it was then.
August 13, 2006
A few years ago, my son Chris came home and said, “Dad, I found a car I want to buy.” Now you have to understand that Chris has not had great results with cars. His first car was a 1988 Mazda 626. He saved up for it and bought it during his senior year of high school. He paid for it and drove it home. The very next day, I got a phone call from him. “Dad, my transmission just went out. I’m stuck and can’t get home.” What followed was a trip to a junk yard and six hundred bucks for a used tranny.
So I was a little worried about what sort of car he found. But he drove it home on a test drive. It was a royal blue, 1963 Chevy Impala. It was gorgeous. Come to find out, it looked better than it ran, but it was still a great car.
Soon after he bought it and brought it home, he started talking about putting “20’s” on it. I had no idea what he was talking about. But I learned that “20’s” are those really fancy aluminum rims that are 20 inches in diameter. You put these really thin tires on them and they look really cool. They’re cool if you are a teenager or young adult. I look at them and see a waste of money. But anyway, Chris wanted these wheels bad.
He ended up selling the car a year later. Shortly after we moved to Fort Wayne, he came down here needing another one. He found a Dodge Neon that was only a year old, didn’t have many miles on it, and really wasn’t a bad price. What sealed the deal were the wheels. The previous owner had removed the stock wheels and added some wider ones. The aluminum wheels shined. They were really pretty.
Did you know that there are about 90 new patents approved each year for wheels? That’s pretty amazing when you think about it because the technology really hasn’t changed much in thousands of years. The oldest wheels that we have ever found are about 5,000 years old and were discovered in Mesopotamia or modern day Iraq.
We know that there were wheels in use in the earliest of biblical times. The book of Genesis mentions wagons and chariots. When you go to the book of First Kings, you can find fairly detailed descriptions of wheels which were made for the bronze stands used in the Temple (I Kings 7:32-33).
But basically, wheels are round and they roll along. The new patents which are issued are for new, lightweight material or new manufacturing procedures. One patent is for bicycle wheels with only three spokes. Another is for inline skate wheels with built in brakes that are activated by putting your foot in a certain position. But the physics of wheels really haven’t changed. No matter how many times we try to reinvent the wheel, it still comes out round.
A large portion of the New Testament letter to the Ephesians is spent with ethical instruction. The author realizes that the church receives its meaning and significance from heaven, but life is still lived out here on earth. Christian faith should guide and determine the sort of life we live here. Last week, we talked about the Christian community and how to strengthen it. Today, we’re going to continue with that discussion, because we do in fact live in community and our Christian faith ought to determine how we live together in order that the community might prosper. So Paul gives us a whole series of important and proper behaviors which Christians are called to follow. The advice that he gives is as old as the wheel and just as necessary. It is advice that is just as sound today as it was yesterday.
Sometimes it seems to me that the church is like those who are trying to reinvent the wheel. Now we are trying to do some new things around here. We are doing some new things in worship on Sunday evenings. We are trying to make the church more physically visible so that people will know that we are here. We are trying to find some new ways to advertise and get our name out there. That is all good stuff. If we don’t respond to today’s generation, we quite frankly will not be around much longer.
What we are trying to do is to repackage the message of Christ so that it communicates to people who have not heard. Now, please hear this. We may be trying to repackage the message to make it more understandable to the sensibilities of today’s culture, but we are not changing the message itself. The message has always been about the actions of God through Christ in redeeming the world and reconciling all people to God. We don’t need to change that message. We won’t change that message. We don’t need to reinvent those wheels. We won’t apologize for that message.