A Diet of Entertainment
SPEECH EPHESIANS 1:1-4 7282006
"COMPLIMENTS OF THE HOUSE" "TOMATOES AND TRIUMPHS"
PROPS: mirror, ladder, and a swing for a parrot cage. Set up a clothes rack with a dozen shirts on hangers. Set up a long table with piles of tomatoes.
A DIET OF ENTERTAINMENT TO THE NEGLECT OF TRUE NOURISHMENT
(Chuck Swindoll, May 1991 Insight for Living Letter) "I heard a funny story the other day, with a message that packed a wallop. It was about a lady [in California] who was so lonely she went to the local pet store to buy some companionship. She had in mind getting a dog but the owner of the store convinced her she needed to purchase a parrot.. .expensive but talkative. He assured her that once the bird began to feel at home, she would have a friend for years (a friend that would in fact far outlive her), and would be much easier to care for than a dog. She paid the price and hauled the parrot home inside its roomy cage. She was full of hope and anticipation.
"A week later she returned to the store. 'Is he talking yet?' questioned the owner. 'Not a word.. .he hasn't said a [blessed] thing [yet].' 'Did you buy a mirror?' he asked. 'When parrots look at themselves [they get excited and] words begin to flow.' Hoping that would help [perk up her prosaic parrot]; she bought a mirro] and stuck it in the cage. Days passed in continued silence, which prompted her to return to the store and complain that her bird still hadn't uttered a peep. 'Well, did you get a ladder? You know, parrots need to [get enough exercise; otherwise they become lazy and lethargic.] Once he climbs up and down the ladder a few times, I'm sure he will begin to talk freely.' She decided it was worth the added expense; that same day she stuck the ladder in the cage.
"Then end of the next week found her back in the pet shop, her face grim with disappointment. Same complaint — the parrot still had shown no inclination to talk. 'Well, have you bought a swing to go in the cage?' he wondered. 'No, I haven't bought a swing, but I do have a mirror and a ladder in there.' ['Well, you know parrots must have some fun as well as exercise.' Thus] he talked her into a swing, which she reluctantly bought and attached to the top of the cage, hoping against hope.
"Three days later she came storming into the pet shop, slammed the door, and demanded to speak to the owner. She was steaming. When he saw her he immediately asked about the parrot. 'He died this afternoon!' she blurted out. 'Died? Did he ever talk?' 'Yes,' she responded. 'He managed to croak out just a few words as he breathed his last.' 'Well, what did he say?' 'He said, "Don't they sell any food at that pet store?'"
"After laughing at that crazy story, an analogy flashed through my mind. We live in a day of religious mirrors, ladders, and swings, where the majority of hungry souls are given empty promises and sold a bill of goods. There are lots of trinkets and gimmicks, bells and whistles, but no food.. .no solid substance to sustain life. The result is tragic. Newborn believers are left like infants on doorsteps, a ready prey for cultists. Furthermore, when difficulties arise, they lack the spiritual strength to cope. It takes nourishing food to [grow strong and] survive."
The letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians is concentrated nourishing food. I am excited to embark on a study of this great document with you. But I must warn you that the cookies are not always on the lower shelf. You are going to have to think. And I challenge you to interact vigorously with the things Paul communicates.
In l:la Paul identifies himself as the author of this document. He cites his credentials: not PhD; not author of the best selling book.. .graduate of such and such university with degrees in.. .all-time winner of the gladiator championships in Rome, but an apostle, i.e. an official representative of God, not by his own pursuit, but wholly by God's doing.
In l:lb Paul identifies those to whom he writes. He is writing to those people in Ephesus who are saints not perfect children, (cf. Paul's letter to the church at Cornith: He calls them saints, yet they were anything but saintly/perfect. They belong to God by virtue of the fact that they have faith in Christ Jesus.
This in an in-house document. So expect that it will contain information that can be appreciated by
believers, but would be misunderstood and distorted by those on the outside.