Summary: Living effectively as Christ's disciples in the world means remembering who we are, whose we are, and why we are!
[“Like a Girl” Commercial, 0:00-0:56]
So much of how we live and work in this world depends on how we view ourselves. I share that Proctor & Gamble “Like a Girl” commercial (which aired during this year’s Super Bowl) because it is a perfect example of how our perception of our self changes the way we behave. And the fact of the matter is that the same is true in our lives as Christians.
This morning, we begin a four-week series on the letter to the Ephesians. Like many of the Epistles in the New Testament, the letter to the Ephesians was written to a new community of faith, a young church which was seeking to live into its identity and find its place in the world. As we join together now as minister and congregation and embark on a new journey, I want us to take some time in the coming weeks to study this letter and to hear the words of assurance and instruction for Christ’s church.
Perhaps some of what was useful to the earliest church will also be useful for us. And maybe we can find in this letter some wisdom to help us live more fully into our Christian identity; to be confident in who we are and in our roll as Christ’s disciples.
When I was a youth growing up at First United Methodist in Oak Ridge, I regularly joined my peers on retreats, or mission trips, or choir tours. Before we would embark on these journeys, the Youth Director would often gather us together for a departing prayer, and after closing the prayer, before we would climb into the bus or van, he would say to us, “Remember who you are, whose you are, and why you are.” That was, of course, his nice and more dignified way of telling us to behave ourselves. And to be honest, it was many years of hearing him say that to us before I really realized what he was saying. But when I did finally understand his words, it became something I looked forward to with each departure; a reminder of my value and worth in Christ, and my purpose in serving him.
It is this same sort of declaration that we hear in these opening words from Ephesians this morning. And I don’t know your thoughts on the matter, but for me, it is so comforting and reassuring to hear this reminder of God’s claim on my life through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Listen again, “Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing that comes from heaven. God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves. We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding.” Quite simply, everything that is bad in us is taken away, and in Christ Jesus we are made new! Just let that soak in for a minute; it’s nothing short of amazing!