When my husband and I first started dating, during my Senior year of high school, he would drive up to my school and leave hand written notes under the windshield wipers of my car. Ah yes, the days before texts and emails. Do you remember? They were pretty special!
I loved coming out to a wrinkly piece of paper with words that he had carefully crafted. I think I loved even more that he had driven 20 minutes to make my day.
I couldn’t help but read every word meticulously, and I even memorized some of them. Yes, I realize that’s nerdy, but don’t tell me you’ve never done it! I felt the love from beginning to end and I always loved the end. The closure to a letter says so much.
This morning, as I was reading Ephesians, a letter from Paul to a church he loved in Turkey, I sensed that same kind of affection. This was a church that he cared for and felt like teammates with. They had once been sold out to idolatry, but now they were unified in their love for the Lord. As their teacher/leader, Paul encouraged them in their faith and provided guidance that the Spirit of the Lord spoke to him.
He starts off by calling them “faithful followers of Christ Jesus” and confirms their identity in Christ. He tells them that he never stops praying for them and longs for them to continue to grow in their knowledge of God. A beautiful beginning to any letter, I might add.
“I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.”
In other words, being adopted by God is pretty special and we have much to look forward to!
Paul reminds them that they all were once “dead” in their sin and lived just like the rest of the world, but because God is rich in mercy, they and “we” have been brought out of death into life and are one with Christ.
Let’s pause here for a second.
If you are a follower of Jesus, I hope you live in the truth of your adoption. You were without hope and without God, deceived by the devil himself, but because Jesus, who is rich is mercy died to save you, you are now a part of God’s family. Even though you lived like the rest of this dark world, you are no longer a part of them. Satan, who is the spiritual work in the hearts of those who haven’t given their lives to Christ, is no longer your Master.
No longer your Master. You now live in the resurrected truth of Christ! Which by the way, is why Easter is such a celebration and should be considered more than one hour on an upcoming Sunday in April. He didn’t stay dead, but rose 3 days later and revealed himself to over 500 eyewitnesses, who saw the healing nail marks in his hands. This revolutionized the church and sent Peter and the other disciples on a mission to see other slaves of Satan become free.
Paul, the writer of this letter, was at one time, persecuting Christians and literally dragging them to their death. God blinded him, spoke to him, and Paul was never the same.
So, as he writes this letter and many others in the New Testament, he fully understands what it means to have lived in obedience to Satan. (See chapter 2) But, even more so, he wants this church and others to grasp the miracle it is, to no longer be his slave, because of Jesus.
Paul calls himself a “slave to Christ”. He was willing for absolutely anything to happen to him for the sake of Christ, whom he owed his very life. We can learn so much from this attitude; it’s definitely not popular in our culture. See also Philippians 2:5-8
There is so much division within the church of America. So many people are trying to dismiss the truth of God’s word; twisting it to fit their liberal ideas. Paul exhorts us to follow God’s example in everything we do and live a life that is the example of Christ. Those are big words from chapter 5. Don’t miss them!
This makes me consider some things I’ve seen on Facebook lately. Are Christians really following God’s example in everything we do? If we want to know what He thinks about social issues, we don’t need to go much further than his word. Study it and you will find the answers, because all scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and makes us realize what is wrong in our lives. So that we will be equipped for every good thing God wants us to do. (2 Timothy 3:16) There is so much there-that will be a blog for another day.
Paul closes his letter to these Christians with these kind words: “May God’s grace be upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”
Oh Lord, raise up Christians who will love you this way and shower your grace on us!