When I began following Jesus in 1975 I had a clear understanding of what God wanted for my life; to teach others the answers to the questions that challenged my faith as a new believer. It wasn't a bolt of lightening or a dream, but rather a realization of what was necessary. In church parlance I was called to the ministry.
Evil has a way of distorting, discouraging, and derailing what once seemed clear. Backbiting, resentment, jealousy, judgement, self righteousness, and pride eat away at the unity of the church and at the resolve of the pastor. It takes a great amount of faith to weather the evil and persevere through the storm. For this reason Paul admonished the Ephesian believers to make the best use of their time. They were to set aside foolishness and peer through the vail to understand the will of the Lord.
Yet, understanding God's will isn't difficult, though we like to make it mysterious. What God has given us to know has been made clear through the written and living word of God. We have been given commands that are non negotiable and principles that give us guidelines. "Thou shalt not" is clear, and "whatever you determine in your heart" is freeing. For nonconformists "thou shalt nots" are restricting and for rule followers principles are infuriating. God does have a sense of humor.
What neither law nor principle does is tell me the details of my life, who to marry, what college to go to, what career should I follow, or what church to attend. It's not that those decisions aren't important but the bible would be too big if God's specific will for each person was written. So, he gives us law and principle. The who I should marry is up to me as long as she fits into the law and principle. She should be a believer, pure, honest, charitable, and loving. She should not be idle or gossip, and she should be concerned for others. The same applies to seeking husbands. With these categories established I am free to chose between all available and willingly interested parties. That is freeing.
I don't have to fret over which college to attend or job to take if they fall within the parameters of God's revealed will. I have told my children that success in life is determined by only two things: do I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind; and do I provide for my family. If I do these two things I am successfully within the will of God.
The Apostle Paul addresses these in the following chapters but gives a summary in contrast in today's passage.
Understand the will of God:
Don't get drunk. Be filled with the Spirit
Worship together through song
Give thanks to God in Christ for everything.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Jesus.
Evil is constantly trying to derail the high call of unity in the church and in the home. It is only when we understand that his will for our lives is simple and easily discerned that we are able to break through the darkness and walk in the light. Don't allow the world to consume you, but be consumed by the Spirit of God, and it will be reflected in your worship, your gratitude, and your love for one another.
God's call on my life hasn't changed, only the venue. I strive to understand and pass it on, if only to one other person. I know that God has called us together as a body of believers despite our deficiencies. I have a dysfunctional love affair with the church because she is the bride of Christ and it is God's will for her to live out the high call of unity. The days are evil, be consumed by the Spirit. I'm just saying...
Ephesians 5:17-21 "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 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."