Okay, I have a confession. It is a confession that I did not realize I had until just now as I read Ephesians 1. My confession is this: I have stopped marveling at the grace of God, as shown by His forgiveness and acceptance of me.
See, my “big thing” that has consumed me for years is the idea of the kingdom of God. I have explored it, studied it, asked others about it, prayed about it, blogged about it (obviously), and generally meditated on the concept for awhile now. What most excites me about the kingdom of God–and what I think we so often miss–is that, not only does it exist to some degree right now on earth, we have a job to do within it. We are citizens of this kingdom, created for a specific purpose–for our “good works,” as Paul describes them in Ephesians 2:10. I find that idea of a purpose, a job, in God’s kingdom to be very energizing. The idea of Christianity being a set of rituals or a group of rules and regulations drains me, but the idea that Christianity consists of work in a kingdom meant to draw people to their Creator…well, that’s just cool.
But you see, my excitement over my job presupposes that I am already a citizen in God’s kingdom–which I am–but it tends to overlook the sacrifice that allowed me to be a citizen in the first place. I saw this reality clearly tonight when I was reading Ephesians 1:1-14. There were several parts of this section that I liked, but I got really excited about the middle section:
God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
Wow! Isn’t that amazing?? The mystery of God’s will, which He has revealed to us, is that He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ! And I believe that that process has already started in the lives and Spirit-led actions of believers! It is so exciting! In fact, it was so exciting to me that I thought I would copy that whole section. And that’s where I realized something: to get to verse 9, you had to go through the previous eight verses, in which Paul marvels at length about how amazing it is that we even get to be citizens in God’s kingdom (he calls it children of God). Without paraphrasing at all, here are some things that God has done for us, as elaborated and celebrated by Paul:
1. “God…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”
2. “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.”
3. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. That is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.
4. “So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son.”
5. “He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.”
6. “He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”
That, my friends, is the text of Ephesians 1: 3-8. As I copied, I was so eager to get to verse nine that I found myself getting impatient with the way that Paul was going on and on about how wonderful it was that God chose us and forgave us and gave us grace and blah, blah, blah. Let’s hurry up and get to the part where I have a job!
And that’s when it hit me. I have gotten so focused on my role that I have stopped marveling at the fact that God has even given me a role in the first place. That’s the real miracle.
I decided to stop copying at verse 8 and just focus on those verses for awhile. I think I need to revisit their message.