Summary: Understanding the value that we have in our relationship with God
Who am I in God?
Too often we get our self-esteem and self value from other people. We get the picture of "who we are supposed to be" from society and from the media. Then we compare ourselves with others to see if we’ve "made it". We’re told that if we don’t do this, wear that, go there, drink this (etc.) then we are a wimp, ugly, weak, unfulfilled (etc.) And we believe this stuff!!
No wonder it’s so hard for people to be Christians these days - they’re bombarded with so much TRASH. It’s tough too, because this ‘trash’ is so appealing. Each one of us are targets. "If you don’t own a brick and tile house in a nice part of town and still have enough time to take out the four wheel drive at the weekend then you haven’t made it".
In other words, our personal value can only be expressed in the things we have or do. And as Christians, we are not immune to that way of thinking and acting.
And so our reading this evening from Paul’s letters to the Ephesians is a direct counter to that way of thinking. It is intended to give us some understanding of the value that we have in our relationship with God. Our new relationship with God arising from the redeeming work and Jesus Christ.
We are Adopted
First of all we see that in our relationship with God we are Adopted. In v5 we see that in love, God destined us to be his sons. And of course in this politically correct age, his daughters as well. In Roman law, the act of adoption had much greater significance than we might imagine. This was no legal convenience or formality arranging guardianship. An adopted child or indeed adult was subjected to a legal process which had far reaching effects. There were four main consequences of this process of adoption. First, the adopted person lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of the legitimate son in his new family. And so in the most binding legal way, he got a new father. Secondly, it followed that he became heir to his new father’s estate. Sometimes, a young man might be adopted if his adoptive father had no children or heirs. However even if other children were afterwards born, it did not affect the adopted child rights. He was inalienably a co-heir with them. Thirdly, in law the old life of the adopted person was completely wiped out. For instance, all debts were cancelled. He was regarded as a new person entering into a new life with which the past had nothing to do. Fourthly in the eyes of the law, the adopted child was considered absolutely the son of his new father. So for example the adopted child could not marry a daughter of his adopted father except by special legislation.
You will see quite clearly what Paul is trying to say. As Christians we are adopted into God’s family. This is no comforting phrase or mere analogy. But we really do gain a new father, we really do become co-heirs with Christ, we really do have our old life and our old debts cancelled and we really are absolutely the children of God. We are truly adopted as God’s children in a total and real way.
We are blessed
Secondly we see that in our new relationship with God we are blessed. In v3 we see that God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”. Just think about that! Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places is a blessing for us.
Now the word blessing can have several strands of meaning. So it can mean to make something Blessed, and so that in the course of and as a result of the blessing the person becomes consecrated to God. It can also mean to cause to prosper. It can also mean to make happy. But this happiness is a special kind of happiness. The English word happiness is to some extent a creature of chance. The word hap means a chance and so in English the word happiness has an essence of something dependent on the vagaries of life which may come and may go. It’s a bit like good luck. But the Christian blessing and blessedness is not subject to those kinds of vicissitudes. It is that joy unspeakable. It is that joy which is deep, serene, which is untouchable, which is self-contained, which is completely independent of the changes and chances of life. The Beatitudes speak of that joy, that blessedness which seeks us and carries us through pain and sorrow and loss. ….And all those circumstances of life are unable to touch that joy, that blessedness, which is constant which is unchanging. And so the Christian has a blessing from God which is not here today and gone tomorrow but it is consistent it is permanent and it comes from God himself.