Recently, I have been preaching from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. The lectionary recommended several passages in a row and I thought, “Why not?” I’m glad I did! Ephesians is like an introduction to Christianity. It is full of basic instructions on how to act; tells you why and how God did what he did to save us; and, reminds us that we all are called to the purpose of building up this Body of Christ we call “The Church.” So, for the next several posts (hopefully weekly), I’ll be going through the book and giving you my opinion on what Paul says. Aren’t you lucky!
Scripture – (1:15-23 in my own words. For the real version, look here) Whenever I pray for you, I give thanks to God for you – because I heard about your faith in God and your love for all God’s people. I pray that God will give you wisdom and reveal even more of himself to you! I pray that the eyes of your heart will see the hope of God’s call, the richness of all he wants to give you, and the greatness of his power. The power we have comes from God’s power, and God’s power is enough to raise Christ from the dead – that’s a lot of power! God raised Jesus up to rule over every power, earthly or angelic, known or unknown, now or in the future. Jesus is the head of the Church, which is his body, and his presence fills all parts of that body.
Observation – Paul’s prayer offers the main point of his letter (1:20-23): by raising Christ, God has achieved a great victory over death and the evil powers of this world. The Common English Bible, in its study notes on this passage, explains it: Paul’s Jewish understanding of the world would have told him that God created spiritual rulers to ensure the just ordering of creation. But, they rebelled and now oppress creation with destructive patterns. By defeating them, God has made a space where people can be reconciled to each other and make peace.
So, the “eyes of our heart” must be opened to be able to see this. Otherwise, we are just being tossed around by the destructive spiritual forces. God has to open our eyes (Wesley called this “Prevenient Grace,” whereby God goes before us and makes awakening possible) so we can see that we can stand against the destructive patterns of the world.
Application – When God “opens the eyes of our heart,” we begin to see things differently. We see that we don’t have to give in to what “the world” tells us is right, cool, or fun. Not that we become “sticks in the mud” or Amish (I apologize to all my Amish readers, but I don’t get it!). Later, around chapter 5, Paul will detail how these “open eyes” should enable us to live. When the “eyes of our heart” are opened, we see that Jesus rules all parts of the Church, that all parts of the Church have access to the same power that raised Christ from the dead! So, if that’s the case – why do we church people settle for such a mediocre existence? We are content to just sit around and try to make each other happy and be nice. We should be out in the world kicking evil’s ass! Heck, most of the time, we are the evil ones! We Christians are the ones hurting and killing, judging and condemning, excluding and closing our doors. The world’s destructive powers are ruling us, instead of us ruling them and being Christ’s body! Jesus fills everything, so we ought to live like it!
Prayer – Lord, I am sorry that I have let my churches settle for mediocre. I’m sorry that I have been content to focus on relationships between members and relationships between members and myself to the neglect of ministry. Fill me, fill my church, with the power of resurrection! Let us see hope and greatness in everything because Christ fills everything in every way.