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Category Archives: Ephesians

Ephesians 5 – My Son Acts Like Me

Carter acts like me…and Leah too.  Sometimes his attempts to do what I do or say what I say are so comical  that I think he’s making fun of me.  Last night right before bedtime he went into full blown performance mode.  He started doing a magic show where he used his toothbrush as a wand to turn himself into different animals and then would run around the room acting like that animal.  At one point I got the wand and turned him into mommy.  He promptly turned Leah into a baby and then began comforting “baby” and asking if Leah needed food or a nap.  At one point he tried to pick her up.  It was so much fun he got to stay up pretty late last night.

Sometimes he gets so intense and focused that he sticks out his jaw and his eyes get wide and every vein in his neck protrudes.  I remember one time looking at him making this intense, almost angry face and thinking to myself, “Where does he get this?  I know Leah never does anything like….oh no……it’s me.”

One of the great joys of parenthood is watching something that is part you become so much like you and yet altogether separate from you at the same time.  It can also be infuriating to realize you are doing battle with your own stubbornness in a much smaller body.   This idea of being in our parent’s image is no stranger to the Bible as we see in the beginning of Genesis when God creates man and woman…in the image of God he created them.  There is this idea of relationship, of children who grow to be like God and yet who rebel and are different.

All of that comes forward into Ephesians 5 where Paul is talking to people who should behave as dearly beloved children.  They should walk in the way of love, because Jesus walked in the way of love.  We should be holy because God is holy.  Our desire for God should be so strong that we strive to emulate Him.  Our devotion should drive us to behave as God’s children because we recognize him as our father.  

At this point in Ephesians, Paul has been making these arguments that anybody, whether Jew or Gentile, who comes into God’s church comes in with power and full membership.  But now that you are here what should you do?  We so often focus on conversion and then waiting until we die to go to Heaven.  But Paul needs everybody to understand that baptism is a birth and that your Christian life is a new beginning where you must relearn how to live, not by the pattern of this world, but by the remaking of our lives in the image of Jesus Christ.  We should live as children dressing up in our parents’ clothes and walking around pretending to be them until some day we grow up and people say to us, “You remind me of your dad.  He must be so proud.”

People should walk up to us as Christians as say, “You remind me of your Father in so many ways.  He must be so proud.”

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Ephesians, Pauline Epistles

 

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Ephesians 4 – Can You Have Full Maturity as a Christian and Not be Part of the Church?

Grace brings us into the Body of Christ. Grace gives us power, placement, and purity. It is by grace that we have been saved. I know this passage isn’t hammering away on grace directly but I remind us of the grace that we have been given because we were brought into the Kingdom before we were worthy to be there. This bringing us to a humble position, we are called to live a life worthy of this calling. Too often we live a life “good enough” but if we truly realized the calling we have received we would continually press on to live lives worthy in a way that is ever increasing. My Grandmother is a great example of this. She never felt like she was good enough and always strived to be better. While I would never say that you could ever be good enough to gain this placement, I feel like some have taken this too far in the other direction and have said that God accepts them where they are and therefore there is no need to change. But…we are called to live a life worthy and Paul gives us a picture of what that life looks like.

Be completely humble and gentle, patient, and bear with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. How is this working out for you? There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one baptism, and one God and Father. We are supposed to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit…but we are supposed to do it through peace while bearing with one another in love.

It is this grace that has been given to us through Christ. How amazing is it that He came down here to give it to us?! He gives this to the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for a very specific purpose. He gives it so that His people will be equipped for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. The desire is for the body of Christ will reach unity in the faith, assumingly through these works of service, and in the knowledge of the Son of God. What does it mean to have the whole measure of the fullness of Christ? If the Church is the body of Christ, does this have any correlation? Can you have full maturity and the whole measure of the fullness of Christ without being part of the Church? It is in this body, the body of Christ, the Church, that we are no longer infants tossed by waves because we are a body filled with supporting ligaments that is growing and building itself up, as each part does its work.

Paul makes an interesting comment in his transition into his instructions for Christian living. I am working from the belief that Paul is writing to a Gentile church. In the Jewish way of thinking, you are either a Jew or you weren’t. If you weren’t a Jew, then you were a Gentile. Paul spills a lot of ink challenging the Jews to give up the practices that distinguish them as Jews. He isn’t calling them to become Gentiles per se. Here he tells the Gentile Christians to quit living like Gentiles. Paul is pushing for a unified body of believers without national labels.

You have been brought into this family, now here is how you are to act. I started out with talking about grace and now I want to end with it as well. Your actions are not what get you into the Kingdom of God. Grace does that. You stay in the Kingdom by acting like you belong there and continually striving to be the citizen you have been called to be. You have the choice to choose to be part of the Kingdom you’ve been brought into or be part of another kingdom.

 
 

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Ephesians 1 – Power, Placement, Purity

I was sitting down to write my blog on an introduction to Ephesians and remembered how good Ryan’s was last year so I pulled it up and am reposting it here.  The only thing I would add is a couple lines highlighting vs 9-10 where Paul tells us that the mystery that he is going to be explaining to us is that God is working through Christ to bring to unity all things in heaven and on earth.  This merging of heaven and earth and the unity of all things is extremely powerful imagery that begins calling us to meaningful lives as Christians in the world today.

And now from Ryan…

Imagine being adopted at the age of 13. You’re already a little bit insecure about yourself and you have now been brought into a family with pretty elaborate family traditions. Everything that is done seems to have meaning. The more you realize this about the family the more you feel like an outsider. Even though they continue to tell you that you belong, you feel as though you have no place there.

This is how the Gentiles felt, and probably even more so, when they came into the Church. Ephesians is written to encourage these Christians about their placement in the body of Christ. Paul is going to address three things primarily in this letter (I’m trying to be a better preacher so I’ll make them all start with the same letter): 1) Power, 2) Placement, and 3) Purity. I just finished a series with the teens on Ephesians and a few of them could probably tell you about the three P’s in Ephesians.

Power. The Gentiles went from a religious practice where they knew who to pray to for everything. There was a god for every part of life. Having only one God would make them feel as though they were weak if there were multiple gods stacked against them. Paul throughout this letter will remind them, “Our God is so big, so strong, and so mighty, there’s nothing our God cannot do! *clap, clap*” (Paraphrase). Paul will constantly remind them of the power that God has. In today’s reading we see, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…to know the hope…glorious inheritance…and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead” (v. 18-20). We have this power too!

This made me laugh and I couldn’t help but post it

Placement. The Gentiles were joining a Church that was made up of Jews. These Jews had a pretty impressive nickname, “God’s Chosen People.” They have been called this for a very long time now and the Gentiles are standing next to them feeling second rate. Paul’s response, you’ve been chosen in Christ before the creation of the world (v. 4), which predates the Jews. They also probably felt out of place because the style of worship would have been almost completely Jewish at that point. It would be like most of us going to a Catholic Mas for the first time. When do I sit? When do I stand? That footstool is to kneel on? What is that man lifting up? Was I supposed to respond right then?! Don’t feel out of place here! This is the Body of Christ and you are home now! You’ll hear this language throughout Paul’s writing.

Purity. Now that your Power and Placement have been established, the proper response is to live a life of purity. You’ve been made pure through Christ so go and live it. This will come later in the book.

I’m really excited and looking forward to the time we are about to spend together in Ephesians.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Ephesians, Pauline Epistles

 

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