Ephesians 5 v 1 - 8

Paul continues to encourage his readers to take off their old garments: sexual immorality, obscene storytelling, greed, all kinds of impurities which once seemed so comforting and life-enhancing are to be stripped away without any kind of dalliance and new clothes are to be put on: thankfulness to God, love-filled lives, living as people of light and imitators of God. It is known that in the third century church new believers sought to attend a baptismal course. This would begin at the start of the new year and last until Easter. On Easter Sunday, generally, the convert would draw near to the baptismal waters wearing their old clothes, strip naked, get baptised and then be dressed in new, white clothes. It could have been that this practise was common even in Paul's day and this is the image he uses to enhance his point or that the practise began as a result of Paul's words here. So Paul sets before his readers the highest standard in all the world: they must be imitators of God. Above all they were to imitate the love and the forgiveness of God. These are the two qualities today which should continue to stand out in us. When the world see us actively forgiving those who harm us and loving extraordinarily; that is sacrificially and whole-heartedly, when everyone else decides enough is enough and no longer sits with the sufferer, the Christian is called to remain. 'Love until it hurts and then love some more'!

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