Summary: A talk for the start of a New Year as part of a series looking at the Book of Ephesians
How well do you know your favourite author, or your favourite poet? How well do you know the person you admire the most?
How well do you really know members of your family? Do others know everything there is to know about you?
For myself, although I love his stories I know very little about my favourite author Ted Dekker. He’s a son of missionaries and he lives in Texas with his wife and children.
My grandmother is 88 years old and although I’ve known her all my life she’s been around a bit longer than me – and I sometimes feel as if there is so much that I don’t know about her.
How about God, the Heavenly Father of our Lord Jesus, our creator – how well do we know him? How well do we know his future plans for us? And do we know where Jesus is right now, and what He’s doing?
Three questions I’ve been asking myself.
3rd Question: where is Jesus right now (1:20-23)?
As we see at a world in turmoil it is a question to ask.
But we should remember that Jesus himself said there would be wars and rumours of wars right up until his 2nd coming. That said; where is Jesus now? St. Paul tells us that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms (1:20); ‘far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come’ (1:21). He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, above every title you can think of. Presidents, Kings, Prime Ministers, Sheikhs, Imams and Generals might think they have power, but God has placed Jesus over all of them. They will all have to answer to him.
The Alpha course is a great way to investigate the Christian faith. During one of the sessions (as an illustration) we hear the list of titles held by Prince Charles. I wonder what you’ll make of the list of titles I’m about to read out:
Duke of Lancaster, Lord of Mann, Duke of Normandy, Sovereign of the Most Honourable Order of the Garter (a dress shop?), Sovereign of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Sovereign of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Sovereign of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, Sovereign of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Sovereign of the Distinguished Service Order, Sovereign of the Imperial Service Order, Sovereign of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Sovereign of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, Sovereign of the Order of British India, Sovereign of the Indian Order of Merit, Sovereign of the Order of Burma, Sovereign of the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert, Sovereign of the Royal Family Order of King Edward VII, Sovereign of the Order of Merit, Sovereign of the Order of the Companions of Honour, Sovereign of the Royal Victorian Order, Sovereign of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem;
Sovereign of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith, Duchess of Edinburgh, Countess of Merioneth, Baroness Greenwich and of course she is also Mum, Grandma, and now a great grandmother too!
They were the titles given at her coronation.
But our Queen has a very real faith in Jesus for which I thank God, because Jesus has been placed ‘far above all rule and authority …and every title that can be given’ (1:21). Let’s pray for her, and our government as the Bible instructs us to do.
Jesus is also Head of the Church. It is his Church. Literally, we are Christ’s Church. We are his body. We are not the head and perhaps the national and local church needs to remember that. Jesus is the head! His titles, his rule, his plans, his power and his authority are incomparable. The Queen’s titles fade next to Jesus. My little title also fades.
1st question: How well do we know God (1:15-17)?
On our website and on the front of our lovely new Notice Sheet we come across a phrase, “Christ Church exists to know Jesus and to make him known.” I agree with that, but I’m also about to bring some constructive criticism to bear on our raison d’Être, our reason for being as a Church.
In this section of St. Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus, he thanks God for their faith in Jesus and their love for all the saints (1:15). I thank God for every sign of faith in Jesus, and what we have here is St. Paul’s reaction to news that has reached him about a local Christian Church. He has heard Good News about their faith; good news about the love they are demonstrating for all the saints. Not saints who died years ago and might be venerated but love for the modern day saints of God – in other words, those who love God and show that love through their love for one another. Jesus said, people will know we’re his disciples by our love for each other (John 13:35).