Psalm 106 begins on a joyful note: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (106:1). But by verse 6 the mood changes dramatically: “We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly…” How did God respond to the wickedness of his people and to their failure to remember him? The answer comes in verse 8, “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.”
Today’s passage uses the metaphor of walking to depict our living death apart from God… Before God delivered us, we were not merely dabbling in sin. Rather, we were walking in it consistently, knee-deep in the muck of rebellion against God… As we’ll see later in this chapter, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, thus receiving God’s grace through him, not only are we forgiven for our sins, but we are also welcomed into a new way of living.
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.
Do you value the voice of your team members? Take a moment and intentionally reflect on this question. When they speak, do you actually stop to listen to what they are saying, or are you merely seeking to check off the “sought counsel” box? Do you feel that you can trust the insight that they give you? Leaders sometimes lament that good help is hard to find. If this is true, this also means that you must work to keep this good help once you find it.
As the story of Joseph remarkably demonstrates, farsightedness is a core gift of leadership. Joseph’s ability to see and understand what others do not opens the doors for his work as lead servant of Egypt. He sees the implications of Pharaoh’s dreams… And he simultaneously sees what should be done… Leadership requires both insight into the fundamental problems facing an organization and insight into the trajectory of their resolution.
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.