November 6, 2019
Scripture Ephesians 1:8b-12
In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:11-12 NRSV
The writer of Ephesians is summarizing the foundation of the Christian faith. The new believers coming to the faith in the early church understood that Palestine and Jerusalem at the time of Jesus had plenty of religious people. But, unlike Jesus the scribes and Pharisees placed their emphasis on the appearance of piety and the strict observance of the laws of Moses. But, Jesus pointed out that they did this at the expense of withholding mercy and love. As a result, the common people were ignored and were suffering every day.
Emphasizing grace and mercy, Jesus healed them and encouraged them, helping them grow in wisdom and faith. Jesus kept a long view of love and demonstrated this to his followers. While appeasing and pleasing God remained important, the ministry of Jesus was tied to sincerity and truth instead of ceremony and rules. As the writer of Ephesians tells us so plainly, God sent Jesus into the world so that we might understand “the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ….” (Ephesians 1:9 NRSV) Jesus was unlike any person who had come before. He was more than a prophet and more than a rabbi or teacher. He was the Son of God.
Nearly everyone understood that Jesus was sincere in his ministry. As a result, Jesus took the long view in his teachings. In fact, he was so effective that we continue to teach his lessons through the Gospels and work continually to live up to his thoughtful, deep, and transforming message of love and hope for all humankind. As a result of our faith in God through Jesus Christ, we can center our life in Christ and, like him, also take on that long view, as a living witness to God. In confidence, we can face the world unafraid, because Christ has gone before us and assures us of salvation through faith. As our Creator and Sustainer, God guides us in all that we undertake. When we live in Christ, all of this comes together and makes each of us more than we could possibly be, or become, on our own.
Thanks be to God who makes all of this our goal and our reality- in Christ.