Monday, March 22, 2010
The Christian's Vision
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians 1:7-10).
As Christians we all have our individual stories of how we came to faith. For me, when I was entering into high school I was becoming increasingly aware of my own sin and my need to truly repent and pledge my allegiance to Christ; some people have conversion accounts that are quite different than mine. But there is one large over-arching story that unites all Christians.
God has a plan. When our first parents sinned against him and came under God's judgment the Creator did not utterly abandon his creation. He could have easily squashed us all and started over, but that's not what he did. Although the book of Genesis takes many twists and turns there is one character that stands out. God called a man named Abram, later changing his name to Abraham, and made him a promise that he would inherit a 'land' and that many nations would be blessed through him. Later on in the biblical storyline we see that God also makes a promise to King David; one of his descendants would sit on an eternal throne and reign justly forever.
These are the stories that Paul has in the back of his mind when he is writing this amazing blessing in Ephesians 1. God's plan is to unite all things under the headship of his Son. He has made it possible, by election, redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and adoption for all those who are united to Christ in faith. The church is not some side project for God. When Paul uses phrases like 'chose us' he is recalling the stories of Abraham and Israel; God's work in Christ is the climax of God's promises to Israel.
Moreover, God has given us his Spirit. Paul says that the Spirit is the 'guarantee' of our inheritance. He is the foretaste of what is to come. He is the future brought into the present who enables us to live as new creations.
As I study Ephesians I am amazed by this big vision that Paul had. He cared for individual Christians and wanted to see individuals put their faith in Christ; but Paul was not an individualist. It was this great mystery now made known through Jesus that captured his gaze. Is this what captures ours as well?