When Paul wrote his letter to the young Christian community of Ephesus he was addressing people who were the product of countless generations of pagan culture. They were a people steeped in the philosophy of "whatever turns you on ...if it works ...go for IT!"
Paul is saying that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers a new, much broader perspective of life. It puts justice ahead of profits. It puts goodness and truth ahead of pleasure, the universal brotherhood of man ahead of national pride, supernatural life ahead of natural death.
Paul is challenging them to have the guts to break loose from their pagan traditions and to live with dignity in the new Christian era. In our idiom, he is challenging them to "get with it."
Today the shoe appears to be on the other foot.
We are being challenged to learn from the new apostles of the old gods ...challenged to face the fact that the sacraments are for the simple minded ...that sex is a recreational activity ...that life is only for the strong, the fit, the useful, the wanted.
They suggest that the risen Jesus is the ultimate bore and death the ultimate tragedy. They are daring Paul's successors to have the guts to break with tradition and to live with dignity in the new pagan era!
The challenge is to return to ancient and, on the surface, potentially appealing ways and values ...thinly disguised by time and marketed now as being the latest and therefore the best.
It is a temptation, as Paul says, to pursue illusion.
However, there is yet another challenge in the mix and it is, once again, issued by Paul, when he tells us of the need for constant spiritual nourishment.
Without the discipline of our regular Sunday worship, without personal prayer, without an effort to live in Christ's presence, anyone of us can slip into the pagan stream. After all, it has been flowing a lot longer than have the waters of baptism.
Being a Christian was difficult in Paulís day.
it is no less so today; especially if you are young and have the understandable desire to be "with it."
Well I suggest that it is up to us to insure that our gray hairs bear witness to our experience.
Our voices will not go unheeded if sincerely, gently, patiently and above all lovingly we express our conviction that Jesus and the imperfect Church he tries to guide are indeed without peer when it comes to being "with it!"