Summary: The wonder of God’s Kingdom is that He chose us to partner with Him, making us heirs to His Kingdom, which requires something of each of us
During my days as a banker, one of the areas we focused on was that of estate planning. The importance of proper estate planning was made very clear for me one afternoon as I sat down with a customer whose husband had died several months earlier. She came into my office, explained that her husband had passed away, and that she had no idea where to start. He had handled all of the finances, and she was overwhelmed by all she had to do. We started reviewing her accounts, and I began guiding her through the process of consolidating various accounts and talking about ways to move her assets around to where she could maximize her earnings, but also where it would be easier for her to handle.
In the midst of our conversation, she pulled a check out of her purse and said, “I’ve also been carrying this around for a couple of months, and I really don’t know what to do with it.” She handed me a check for several hundred thousand dollars. It was then that I called our trust department.
I felt so sorry for her. She was grieving the death of her husband, overwhelmed by the decisions that lay before her, and at a loss for what to do. I was also stunned, because her husband had done a fairly good job of saving and investing, but he had not organized their finances well and had not done any estate planning, which was now left to his grief-stricken, unprepared wife. A well thought-out and thorough estate plan is one of the best gifts you can give to your spouse and your children, no matter how much or how little you think you have.
In today’s scripture passage, Paul is speaking to estate planning, and specifically, our being heirs to the kingdom. The book of Ephesians has been described as a theological tract or religious meditation, for it is unlike any of the letters we attribute to Paul. It doesn’t have the usual personal greeting, as these thoughts are directed to the Gentiles in general, nor does it address specific questions or circumstances. Paul wrote this while he was in prison, and many see this as a meditative, poetical piece lacking the usual rebuke or argument we’re accustomed to from Paul. What we have in this morning’s passage is Paul’s reflection upon the wander of God making us heirs of the kingdom.
First of all, Paul never thought of himself as having chosen to do God’s work, rather he always thought of God having chosen him. The account of Paul being chosen takes place in the ninth chapter of Acts. Known as Saul, he was a great persecutor of Christians, traveling the countryside to expose them and bring them to justice. On his way to Damascus, he is blinded and hears the Lord ask him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Through this experience and other circumstances surrounding this trip, Saul is converted to Paul, and becomes one of the greatest first century proponents of Christianity.
While Paul’s conversion is incredible, what holds more wonder for me is the fact that God chose Paul, and for that matter, that he chose any of us in the first place. God certainly could have accomplished his ultimate end much quicker and with a great deal less heartache, had he not chosen us to carry out the process.
These three young ladies that were baptized this morning did not so much choose God, as God chose them. Yes, they held the ultimate decision in whether to submit to God’s choosing them. They could have turned from it, but God has chosen them, just as He has chosen us…with a plan in mind for our lives.
God also chose to use this church, formed in 1773, to serve as the birthing church for our local association. God chose this church as a vehicle of ministry for this community, and each one of you plays a part in that choice. We have been researching and planning and praying for almost two years with regard to the work of our long range planning committee. This Wednesday, they will make the formal recommendation that we adopt the schematic plan that is posted in our vestibule. We have asked that you be in intentional prayer for the past 90 days, that we might discern God’s will in this project.
God made the choice that the local church is his vehicle of hope and mercy, and we gather later this week to share in the discernment of God’s will for this church. This decision isn’t about me, it isn’t about Bert, it isn’t about the committee, but rather it is only about God’s chosen people discerning His perfect will. Remember, we did not so much choose God, as God chose us for a purpose.