The best perspective ever
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)
Our second reading today seems a rather standard beginning of a Pauline letter in which Paul acknowledges God’s goodness towards us in choosing us in Christ and blessing us now with life with him so that we can live to the praise of his glory. It is the most gracious and wonderful thing to have happen to us. But that really can be hard to believe when we look at our actual lives.
Do you remember the first time you saw photos of the night sky and the galaxies and nebulas and just how fascinating they were to contemplate? Or maybe it was nature – biology – and the beauty and wonder of the world struck you? Or you are musical and there was a piece of music that was so sublime you almost couldn’t believe you heard it? In taking you down memory lane I am asking you just to consider that in our everyday often ordinary and sometimes less than ideal lives there can still be found a sense of wonder about beauty and biology, living and light years, harmonies – music and colour – and they remain around us but we can get so focused on the day, the moment, the task to do, the problem to solve, that living is shrunk to just making do or getting through. It is said that no one goes to the grave wishing they had spent more time at work. And, sadly, many people go to their graves with a sense of unfulfillment that they didn’t get done what they dreamed of doing and that world was simply too tough.
Paul, in his introduction, seems to be pointing to a collage of God’s goodness – in the Greek our text is one sentence and it is phrase after phrase, poetic almost, with constant referencing to Christ Jesus there and there and there – not to lift their spirits because life is hard – chin up, it’s not that bad – but instead to remind us of reality, the stuff we see but also the stuff we don’t see that is mainly hidden from our senses and received through faith – that is our spiritual life in this worldly life.
As a devout Jew, Paul would have grown up saying ‘blessed be God’ but now he reminds his readers that God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed them – us – in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm. God has gone to incredible lengths so that you – yes, you – God knew that you would be living here and now and so he has prepared for you to be with him in the heavenly realm and with him now through Jesus.
We can praise this God – tell others how good he is – because he has saved us through Jesus, through the cross, through Jesus’ blood shed on the cross and given to us with bread for the forgiveness of sins. And we can come back again and again and God never tires of forgiving us. We get tired and ashamed of sinning but God never tires of forgiving. That is something for which we can praise God.
And it is in contemplating and living in our salvation, in how it came about, that Paul reminds you – yes, you – that God has planned all this – and by that I mean that you be rescued and live with him. Yes, I know our logic can go to all sorts of places and we can have many philosophical discussions about God and sin and evil but Paul isn’t interested here in philosophy but in comfort – he wants his readers – you – to know that you are not an accident of life, you are not a mistake, no matter what your personal history or what others say of you – or even what you say about yourself – but rather this God – Father, Son, and he’s about to mention the Holy Spirit – has acted to make sure you can live with him for ever – and that begins in this world rather than when we die.
Paul reminds the Ephesians that this life with its inheritance comes about through the Gospel of your salvation – the truth of Jesus – and that it isn’t just words that you can ignore but these words have been personalised for you – spoken to you, given to you – when you were sealed with the Holy Spirit which takes us to Baptism.
Have you had the best week of your life this week?
Have you had the worst week of your life this week?
Has this week been pretty much just an ordinary week this week?
Your week is what it is and they will go up and down, be better or worse, happy or sad, healthy or painful and Paul in today’s words wants you to pause and look beyond your week to eternal truths that do not change no matter your experience this past week – eternal truths that are yours in Christ now. Salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, God’s goodness are yours now and can help you with each week, with each day. And because this is true – Jesus is alive now with us – we are not delusional or believers of a fairy tale – we can learn to do one thing that can help us through this world – live each day, pay bills, deal with C-19, go to work, be retired, and everything we do – and that one thing is to praise God for his grace because that is a constant and God is for us.
We may struggle with praise when it seems to us that God is not good or that he doesn’t care as we look at our life or week but that’s the point of what Paul is doing and getting us to look up or look wider and see the big picture, the beauty, the plan, the wonder – that Jesus, through the cross, alive again, is part of our life as well and that therefore those baptised, those in Christ, those who have God’s Word holding them are blessed.
Today’s Second Reading is like being splattered with images and phrases, spiritual paintballs of colour that don’t hurt that lift us from what might be the grey and grimy perspective we might have and give us a glorious perspective. God is with us each day and our future is secure and so we concentrate on living this eternal life in Christ each day through faith. It’s not easy at times – maybe most times – to believe all what God has done and gives is for me – but that’s why Paul began this way to point us to the truth of what God has already done – ‘you are saved and alive in Christ’, he says.
Now let’s live what we believe.
- Ephesians 1:3 - 14