Ephesians 2:1 speaks of death, not literally, of course, but metaphorically. Though you were alive physically, you were dead in a way that was quite serious. You might say you were spiritually dead, though this condition affected far more than just your inner life. And why were you dead? Because you were cut off from God, the source of life, the one who is life. And what cut you off from God? Your “transgressions and sins.”
If we don’t grasp the bad news of our condition outside of Christ, then we won’t grasp the good news of what God has done for us in Christ. And if we don’t feel the horror of the bad news, we’ll miss the joy of the good news. Too often these days, Christians downplay the bad news because we don’t want to put anyone off. But, by ignoring the bad news, we diminish the amazing goodness of the good news.
I will never forget the feeling. There I was, a young boy standing just outside the gates of Disneyland. Beyond the turnstiles, I could see the Main Street station of the Disneyland Railroad. And beyond that? Adventure! Excitement! Joy! I could hardly contain myself. I’m reminded of that feeling today as we stand just outside the gates of Ephesians 2. I realize this might seem odd to you… Yet, I find the story of God in Ephesians 2 to be absolutely compelling, life-changing, and, yes, exciting.
How do we seek the Lord? What does this mean for those of us who are already in covenant relationship with him? In part, seeking God is a matter of paying attention… We pay attention to him from the moment we wake to the moment we close our eyes at night. We don’t look for God only in so-called “sacred” spaces, but equally in so-called “secular” places. God is present and active everywhere. We are invited to discern his presence and activity wherever we are.
The church is Christ’s body, the physical representation of Christ on earth. And the church is, in some way, the vehicle and container for all that God is doing in the universe. As we move through Ephesians, we’ll learn much more about the church, its identity and role. For now, we have been introduced to the church and sense its centrality to the story of Ephesians… Even now we begin to understand how central the church is to God’s plans for the world.
We live in the tension between the fact that Christ is head over all things and the fact that all things are not as God intends them to be. Many people in our world reject the sovereignty of Christ, and he allows them to have this freedom. Yet, we who know Christ as Savior and Lord have the opportunity not only to live under Christ’s headship in our personal lives, but also to bring parts of our world under his authority.
It’s a wonderful thing to know Jesus as our friend. Yet, sometimes we become so enamored with relating to Jesus as our friend that we forget who this friend really is. Ephesians 1:19-23 serves as a corrective to our tendency to reduce Jesus to merely a nice guy, someone to hang around with… The Jesus who is our friend is also the One who is seated with God the Father in Heaven, exalted above all other powers in the universe.
Ephesians 1 says that the very power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us. This does not mean, however, that we can control this power. The power of God is not like the Force in Star Wars, something we can learn to manipulate. Rather, we have access to God’s power because God dwells in us and among us through the Holy Spirit. God determines how his power will be used in our lives.
He created us in his image, calling us to be fruitful and multiply, to work so that the world might be filled… But God also created play. He made us with the capacity to jest, to dance, to laugh. The example of Leviathan encourages us to enjoy life, to do things that are not necessarily productive in the ordinary sense, though they are productive of delight, health, and community. Our playfulness reflects the creative intentions of our playful God.
God’s power is for us, for our benefit, for our salvation, for our empowerment to participate in God’s work of redeeming all creation. Not only is God’s power given to us through the Spirit, but also God’s power is consistently working to help us who trust in him. The more we know God, the more we will know that he is using his incomparably great power for us, for our good as well as for the good of all things.