The central mystery of God, his plan to unite all things in Christ, isn’t just lofty theology that makes no earthly difference. In fact, this mystery revealed in Christ has everything to do with who we are as God’s people and how we are to live each day in the world. It speaks to how we live in our families, churches, workplaces, and neighborhoods.
In my last devotion, I underscored the need for clarity at the beginning of our pursuit of God’s vision for our lives. When you turn on the lights at the infancy stage of your project, you can clearly see what you have. Resources are made visible, and inadequacies are often highlighted. So what do we do once the lights are on?
As Christians, it’s easy to see God’s hand when we flourish in our work. But can we trust that God still calls and sends us into our work when, despite our best efforts, we are “sold out”? Perhaps some of you are facing just such circumstances. Today’s text is both reminder and encouragement that God’s providence is at work in our lives in the most difficult circumstances, and for the most unimaginable results.
Ephesians 1:8-10 is one of those passages that have transformed my understanding of work. This passage reveals that God’s big plan is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (1:10). There it is, plainly spoken. God’s plan is not just for souls and heaven. It has to do with all things, including things on earth. If God cares so much about the things of earth that his grand plan for the future includes them, then surely God cares about earthly things now.
Because of what I have seen throughout the Scriptures, I no longer believe that getting into heaven is the only thing that matters in life. If this were true, then, presumably, God’s plan for the fullness of time would be “to bring to heaven as many souls as possible through Christ.” But that’s not God’s plan. His plan, according to Ephesians 1:10, is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
I know that God is faithful, gracious, and merciful beyond all measure. I know these things. But I still find myself unsettled by God’s timing. I wonder why the Lord tarries when my prayers need an urgent response. I wonder why God puts up with so much injustice in this world. I wonder when God will make all things right so that he might receive the glory he deserves. Ephesians 1:8-10 doesn’t provide direct answers for my wonderings. But it does remind me of a fundamental truth that I need to remember today.
God’s plan is centered in Christ, happens through Christ, and brings all things together in Christ. Christ is crucial to God’s plan in the sense that he is essential to it… If we are to experience the unity and wholeness of God, we do so “in Christ.” If we are to live meaningful and productive lives, we do so “in Christ.” If we are to be effective agents of restoration in our world, we will be so “in Christ.”
As we reflect on God’s plan, we might wonder why God has chosen this particular plan. Why does God want to bring all things to unity in Christ? Why is this necessary? What is God’s ultimate purpose in this plan? If we’re going to make sense of God’s plan, it would be good to be clear on God’s why. The why begins in a story that lies behind Ephesians 1. It’s the framing story of the whole Bible, found in the first three chapters of Genesis.
As we sat together on the couch, my husband turned to me and said, “Instead of wars, let’s just figure everything out with basketball. If your team wins, your country gets the land. If our team wins, our country gets the land.”
I know it’s an oversimplification, but doesn’t it sound nice?
For those of us with a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and shoes on our feet, it’s hard to justify any reason for complaint. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that a certain state of affairs or some event has irritated or frustrated us. Really, it’s okay… David was a master complainer, and we can follow his example. Check out Psalm 13.