Summary: Paul calls the church to worship God for the amazing things He has done for us in Christ Jesus.
A Call to Worship
Ephesians 1: 3 – 14
I don’t know if you’ve ever really thought about it, but there very first story in the Bible involving more than one human being, is the story of a wedding. God, after looking at everything else in all creation and pronouncing it good, looks at the man whom he has made in his own image and says, “It is not good for man to be alone;” and he does not then bless the man with a puppy or a kitten or even a new pickup; no, he creates a woman and gives her to the man to stand beside him, to love him, and to be his bride. Then,
“the man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
So the story of humanity, this epic tale that is still being told began at God’s direction with a romance. Of course, tucked away in the middle of our Bible, between the Proverbs and the prophets is one of the most remarkable love songs ever written—the Song of Songs’ which is Solomon’s; and we don’t read it often, in fact, I’ve met Christians who were embarrassed to admit that it’s even in there. And if there are children around…well, let’s just say that if the English version is rated PG-13, then the Hebrew edition would certainly merit an R; but it’s there, and it’s in the Bible as a testament to the reality that God created us to live our lives in relationships with others, to know and be known, to love and be loved in return.
And I think that’s why there’s a kind of wonder about a wedding, from the moment the doors of the church are opened to the moment the lights are turned off at the reception hall. and in all those moments, there’s no moment quite like that moment, when the bride enters the sanctuary. Everyone is seated, waiting in expectation, and then, the music changes and that’s their cue to rise and turn to see her as she makes her way down the aisle on the arm of her father.
But no one has a better view than the groom, standing as he is at the front of the church, and no one will ever see her the way he sees her in that moment: the way Adam saw Eve when they were introduced for the first time; the way that Solomon looked into the dark eyes of the wife of his youth. Not even a camera can catch the radiance that surrounds her. And those who view the pictures will never see her the way the groom sees her in that moment—the most beautiful woman in all the world, wearing the most stunning dress—a bride adorned for her wedding.
Now of course, the groom is inevitably well turned-out too; he might even be wearing a tux for the first time in his life, but standing next to her, it really doesn’t matter much what he looks like. Few will notice and most, including the groom himself won’t much care, because the bride is his glory and this day is about her.
And as we were talking last week about a way of seeing—a way of looking ourselves and at the church of Jesus Christ, we need to keep in mind that it’s a fact of scripture that in both covenants, when God considers the people he has chosen for himself, when he looks at
the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven
this is what he sees: a bride, perfect in beauty, adorned in holiness, radiant in glory. Later on we’ll see it in the letter to the Ephesians itself, Paul will write,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
But understand, if Adam’s first thought when he looked at Eve was, “Wow!” then that’s also Jesus’ thought when he considers you, the church that he bought with his own blood and dressed in a righteousness that we could never afford.
Oh, we can talk about our sinfulness and the impurity of our hearts. It’s all true,
“There is no one righteous, not even one;”
But this is no surprise to God. Even before he created us, He knew our hearts better than we can ever know them ourselves, but He loved us anyway, and he chose us in Christ, and he called us to be his own. And as we noted last Sunday, if we could begin to see ourselves in that light—if we could begin to see the church as the Lord Jesus sees the church, what a transformation would take place in our understanding.