In the letter to the Ephesians, the author (purportedly Paul) offers a grand vision of the church – its mission, vision, and way of life. Part of becoming the church and living a baptismal life means that we have to put away some of our old desires and turn ourselves to new and holier ones.
In the Church, Ephesians says, “thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy” (4:28). A radical vision indeed! Instead of locking up our prisoners (indeed, as Paul was locked up), the Church is called to accept those who once practiced evil and allow them to work for their own good and for the good of others.
Allow me to tell you where I actually, literally, have seen this: I know a church sexton who is a convicted felon. He was put in the slammer for armed robbery. To make a long story short, he was give this job by the church and was allowed to work honestly with his own hands. Then, in perfect fulfillment of Ephesians, this sexton shares with the needy through his own amazing ministry to homeless children in the Austin area. He gives them food out of his own pantry, lets them bathe in his apartment, and helps them get on their feet and pursue an education.
Is this Bible true? You betcha…