Going Deeper 1-2-20

+1) One more encouragement to commit to reading through the Bible in 2020.  If you want to use your phone, the app from The Bible Project can be downloaded through the Play Store by typing in "The Bible Project" and downloading "Read Scripture."  I hope you will join me in this New Year's resolution!

+  +  +
The second reading for Christmas 2…

Ephesians 1:3-14  3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.

 

In one complex, run-on sentence (the NRSV breaks it into sentences of more reasonable length), Paul lays out a summary of the Christian faith, referring to the roles of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The core truth is that we are to “bless” God in response to His gracious blessings poured out upon us, His children by adoption.  And the way we bless God is by living our lives “to the praise of his glory” as we are led to see that we are “holy and blameless before him in love” because of His goodness and grace, not our own.

 

This text is a marvelous gift!  Sometimes it seems as though our faith and all that it entails is super-complicated.  And yes, given the complexity of the Scriptures from which our understanding is drawn, and given that we are finite creatures seeking to comprehend an infinite Creator, and given that we are broken by sin and distracted by a broken world under the influence of the evil one, things do get complicated.  But this summary shows that at the heart of it all we have a rather simple formula: God’s love; our response,

 

Because of God’s incredible grace, through which we have received “adoption as his children through Jesus Christ” and “have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us”, we are led to understand that our response is to live in such a way as to bring glory to God.  Another way of understanding this is to see that the goal is that we be more and more fully restored to what we were created to be: reflections of the Creator.  We were made in His image, and God desires to recreate that image within us.

 

What a perfect text for the New Year!  May the Lord continue to recreate a “new you” (and me!) throughout this New Year!

 

Happy New You!


Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."