Quick Update / Ephesians 1:1-14
A Quick Update:
So it’s been a while since I last updated this blog, and life has been both a lot of fun and really involved. From work taking up more time to devising some premarital counseling material to just having a general busy-ness about my life in the last few weeks, things have been… well, busy.
But I do want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading and to give you an idea of what I’d like to do for the next few months, both to keep me posting regularly, to keep you updated on where I’m growing and what I’m learning, and to help me more directly put the sermon into my life. Today will be the first post of my thoughts on my lead pastor Lane’s new sermon series on Ephesians. He and I have been meeting for the past few weeks and he has challenged me to read through Ephesians devotionally, and now he’s preaching on those same passages that I’ve been working through. I’m excited about where the Lord will lead me in the next few months as we take a fairly detailed look at a really precious book in our Scriptures. I’ll also continue to post musings and other things from time to time (so stay tuned for those), but expect that I’ll be posting every week on some take-aways from the sermon Lane preached.
This week Lane kicked off the new series on Ephesians by going through the first 14 verses of chapter one. This is a powerful text, and one in which Paul doesn’t hold back – he comes out swinging with some hard-hitting theology meant to both encourage and challenge his readers. Lane’s main focus on the text was that there are a couple of distinctives for those of us who have new life in Christ as a result of God’s grace.
First, we Christians are called by God to be his New Creation. God immense love for us redeems us from our past sins for his glory. That means that he loves us too much to leave us where we were in our sins, and he puts within us a new heart that beats for him, and he gives us the Holy Spirit to give us a renewed mind, new motives, and the ability to obey him. We are God’s own workmanship, like Paul who was redeemed from his murderous and God-hating past, and we are in the process of living out the effects of God’s redemption. The first question that I ask myself, then, is this: If I’ve been made new and God says I’m his workmanship – a result of his effort and not mine, why am I acting like it’s my work and my effort that’s getting me to where I’m at? I must lay this mentality down if I’m to serve him faithfully and to glorify him with a life of ministry. Otherwise I will burn out early and bring him shame. The second question I ask myself is similar: Where is my identity? What do I measure my status as a human being? Is it with work, relationships, accomplishments, or education? If I claim the name of Christ, why would I consider my identity anything other than what God himself has said? I am a Christian, I am a new creation in Christ, and I have heaven awaiting me when I breathe my last. This changes the game completely, and there is no reason whatsoever that I should consider myself less or let anything else dictate my status. Not sin, not failures, not wants or other people. I am firmly rooted in Christ. Period. Which directly leads us into the next point:
Second, we Christians are redeemed for a purpose. When we are redeemed and we see God as he is (not how we prefer or wish him to be), we become his saints, and are freed from enslavement to others’ opinions of us – including Satan our accuser. Scars from our past no longer have the sting they once did. We no longer bleed from those wounds – they are rather stories of God’s love and redemption, stories of strength and victory rather than defeat and shame. And this is not just so we will be free, but so we will be free to serve God’s purposes for our lives. This purpose for us in this place and time is to make Christ known in our culture. God happens to have led me to Springfield, Missouri – therefore I will focus my efforts on making him known and glorifying him here. Rather than staying comfortable, I must get out and see Springfield redeemed for the glory of God. The things I don’t like about Springfield cannot embitter me – they must be engaged and have the gospel brought to bear on them. The rampant child abuse and domestic violence in this great city must know the love and peace of Christ; the insane amount of illicit narcotics in this city must be answered with the joy, purpose, and transformation that the gospel brings. It is not enough for me to simply ignore them and go about my business as a good Christian. So my question is this: What do I love about Springfield? What did God use to draw me to this city, and what needs to be redeemed here? To see some more stats and/or ideas along these lines, check out our church planting site here. God has given us much grace and peace in Christ which we share with this world.
Finally, the last question that really struck me was this: Is the life I’m living with God’s newness in me indicative of Christ and drawing me closer to him, or is it stressful and embittering? Christian, are you loving Christ more as a result of your salvation, or are you confused and frustrated? Take a look back at Ephesians 1:1-14 to see what God has blessed us with – he has lavished his love upon us, and his grace is no burden. Know the God of the Bible, and know his Son Christ Jesus who lived and died and lives for us.
Pray with me this week that we would know our King and his redemption in our lives. Let us go about living out this Christ life in our culture, and let’s get after God’s purpose for our lives.