Summary: Our world is a denying, divisive place but Christ is God's great affirmation of love to us
Division, dogmatism and denial seem to be hallmarks of our culture, including the church. We don't have to look far to see it either. Turn on talk radio and you'll here diatribe after diatribe. Products and pharmaceutical make a promise instant health or beauty. Spiritual gurus, self-help writers and others offer 3, 10, or 12-steps to thinner, integrated and happier us.
Even the church has found it easier to deny than affirm. The last few decades has seemed to have tried to convince people of what they don't have to believe and still call themselves a Christian. Rev. Leonard Griffith wrote, "People already know what they don't believe; they want to know what they can and must believe." 1 Ephesians might be a good study for our world today.
Paul preached, lived, worked and prayed in a world that was as divided and divisive as our own. He wrote to churches separated by politics, money, race and social standing. There were places where dogmatic desire overruled the clear teaching of God's word. There were times when those with power found denial was easier than standing for truth. As Paul faced such times he offered to the congregations located in and around Ephesus a much-needed affirmation that God had done the unimaginable and unthinkable through Jesus, our Lord.
Paul greets the readers, as do many letters of the first century with a blessing. Verses 3-14 are another story. They are one humongous run-on sentence that opens up all kinds of questions and decisions for the translators. Dr. E. Norden commented that it is, “the most monstrous sentence conglomeration … that I have encountered in Greek”2
CHOSEN BY GOD
Where you picked first, middle or last one when the kids chose teams? When you chose a life partner did you pick the first one that came along or did you have some criteria they had to meet first?
Paul needs us to understand that the whole idea of salvation, heaven and the rest doesn't start with us. God has chosen us, literally adopted us as heirs. We've been chosen "before the foundation of the world" verse 4 says.
God doesn't look around and say, "Oh! He's doing a great job with his kids, I'll save him." Or "I really like how she's got her act together. Maybe I'll consider them for salvation next time around." God's not moved by our horrible situations or childhood. He's not convinced by our good works that we are worth saving. There is no "last minute hail-Mary" passing us to God for salvation. God's choice of us happened before any of us were alive. God chooses us and what's more makes us heirs. Let me say this again. Any sense of God's presence in our lives is the work of God not us. It is the hand of God set upon a life that transforms it.
We've been picked out and made God's heir because he has a purpose for us that goes beyond anything we believe we can endure. Now the Jewish followers of Christ who heard this letter understood these concepts quite well. They were God's chosen people and they knew what it meant to offer a sacrifice to God that was spotless and perfect.