Jul 7, 2021
Focus reading Ephesians 1:3-14
The 28th of June marked three years since my mum died. Mum was a person of strong and active faith. Even though Dad was a minister, it was from Mum that I learned to pray, read the Bible, sing songs of faith, and take part in gathered worship. From both Mum and Dad I learned about what it meant to live out the Christian faith in my daily life. Mum was very concerned about the faith development of Children. She taught Sunday School nearly all her adult life. At the Aspley Uniting Church for about 20 years she did the Children’s address in worship most Sundays and she also ran kids craft and kids clubs at Camphill, North Ipswich and Aspley. In her lifetime she would have had an influence on the faith development of thousands of Children.
Her story is not unique. Perhaps you have a similar story of your parents. Perhaps you have a story about a church member of family friend. Maybe they weren’t involved in Children’s ministry; maybe they lived out their faith in the workplace, in the quality of their work, in the way they supported fellow workers, or in the way they worked for a community or even political cause. Perhaps in one of those settings like my Mum they helped you to grow in faith. Perhaps they helped you to live your Christian life more fully in work and community settings. What is it that motivates the Christian life?
In today’s reading from Ephesians 1:3-14 you hear from Paul that Christians have been given new life. You have “received every spiritual blessing” (v3). You are ‘chosen’, ‘holy’ and ‘blameless’ (v4). You together with all things in heaven and on earth will be brought into unity “under Christ”. (v9-10) You are receiving and will receive an inheritance, the same eternal life which Jesus has, a place alongside him in the new creation and the sign of this is the Holy Spirit, God’s gifts, love and power at work in your hearts and lives. (V13-14)
You have a new life and you also have a new community. You are adopted Children of God. (V5) As above, the gift of being gathered together with all creation also means that you are gathered together with all people, with all who trust in Jesus. (See later in Ephesians where you hear that Jesus has broken down the barriers between people, so that we are one new humanity. (2:15-22) And from today’s passage I have not even mentioned forgiveness, and redemption (that is, being set free). (v7)
All of this is a free and undeserved gift, “glorious grace”, (v7-8) which you have received in Jesus.
This all sounds, grand, exciting and wonderful, but what does it mean for your day to day life and what does it have to do with my mum, or with the important Christian figures in your life? Is all this heavenly talk of any earthly use?
I believe it very much is of great earthly and heavenly use. Paul tells us that because of all this “glorious grace” you should be and live “for the praise of his glory.” (V12) Your lives should be mirrors of the life of Jesus, telling the good news that all can be God’s children, healing the sick, comforting the sad and grieving, feeding the hungry, befriending sinners, sharing meals as guest and host with all who would have us, crying out against injustice and so much more.
In every Christian life it will take a different shape. For my Mum it meant a special concern for the faith and educational development of Children. In another life it might mean being the best tradesman, or professional possible. In another life it might mean a deep concern for and commitment to the environment, or mental health, or the homeless. In another life it might mean being a peacemaker and reconciler in communities, families or even nations. In another life it might mean expressing yourself in art, singing, writing and creativity, which reflects the hope and glory of God. You may not be a perfect mirror of that “glorious grace”, but your calling is none the less to live “for the praise of his glory.” (V12)
The Good news is that while you do play your part, all of this is still God’s doing, you are mirrors of the love of God, your light reflects the greater light of Jesus. Even better, one day when heaven and earth are combined in Christ, “when the times reach their fulfilment” (v10) then you will be transformed into perfect mirrors. You have an eternal future with God.
What does it mean in your life here and now? You have a purpose, a calling to live for God’s glory. Perhaps like my mum you have a particular calling or area of service. Perhaps you are called to live a life of general service, doing your best to reflect Jesus’ love and tell the story of God’s love in your day to day tasks and relationships. One thing is certain you are called to proclaim Christ’s glory now and into eternity.