Reading for Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: Ephesians 1:3-14
Peace be with you!
Somehow I skipped the confirmation class where we signed the waiver advising us of the dangers that come with being an active Christian. No Sunday school teacher tells children about the dangers in the world.
With ISIS constantly in the news, it feels like a risk just walking out the door, let alone admitting you are a Christian. In America, Christians are not being persecuted as they are in the Middle East but watching your fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ be killed for no reason but for being Christians evokes its own fear. Sometimes we bemoan the dangers of being a Christian, but mostly because we haven’t been taught that it comes with the territory.
We believe in a mystery that Biblical scholars spend their lifetime trying to explain, but it always boils down to not having the ability to fully understand it because of the unknown element, like an unsolvable algebra problem. How could God the Father adopt all of us as his children? How can all of us be marked with the Holy Spirit? How do we even deserve Jesus dying for our sins?
Over the next seven Sundays, we will be studying Ephesians and how Jesus unites everyone in the world as God’s adopted children. Ephesians lays the groundwork for what it means to be a child of God in the world. We take a risk when we proclaim the good news is for all people, not just a select few. Over the last few weeks, seven churches have experienced shootings and fires, though some of the fires were naturally caused. When we proclaim that all are welcome, it is always a risk that that grace might be used against us.
The author of Ephesians begins with the proclamation that through Jesus Christ God adopts everyone as his children (Ephesians 1:5). There are no more distinctions between Jew and Gentiles. There are no more distinctions based on race, nationality, abilities, etc. By sending Jesus to die for our sins, God draws all things to him (Ephesians 1:10). Jesus breaks down the barriers that previously separated us from God the Father and from one another in order to make a more inclusive community. God sends his only begotten son into the world to redeem us from all of our sins through his amazing grace (Ephesians 1:7). Through Jesus’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection, God the Father adopts us as his children and redeems us as his people, so we may worship and praise him all of our days (Ephesians 1:11-12).
It is difficult to explain why God the Father goes to great lengths to adopt us as his children by sending Jesus to redeem us from our sins (Ephesians 1:9-10). Nonbelievers struggle to understand how we, as Christians, can just accept and believe in the mystery of God’s love. These individuals feel it is a fairy tale rather than truth. As Christians, we believe in God’s amazing love, forgiveness, and grace, because we understand there is something more than ourselves. We recognize we cannot explain everything by science. ‘We are risk takers, because we believe in a mystery that cannot be explained, even if scholars spend their whole lives trying to do so.
For nonbelievers, it is difficult to believe in a mystery that no one is able to completely understand. There is no Sherlock Holmes who can solve the mystery of God’s amazing grace. As Christians, we live with the unknown mystery and believe it is true, even if we cannot explain it. We have the responsibility of spreading the good news that God redeems us all through Jesus Christ and by believing we inherit eternal life. We worship and praise the Triune God, because he promises us there is more to come after this life. God promises us light in the midst of the darkness. God promises us he will never leave our side, even when he has every right to do so. God promises forgiveness when we repent. God promises us all of it, even eternal life in his kingdom. And all that we have to do is to believe there is something more beyond this world. What do we have to lose?
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for adopting us as your children. Help us to live within the mystery of your grace. Be with us as we go out into the world and proclaim your good news. Remind us that you are always with us, even in the darkness. Thank you for your forgiveness, love, and grace. Amen.