Have you ever come before someone of power or authority? Or maybe had the opportunity to talk with someone known for their talent, skills, or personality. Have you ever met a celebrity? I had a brief encounter with Shawn White once, a famous snow boarder, but I’ve had several more intentional encounters with one of my heroes: Bob Goff. This guy is extremely approachable and humble, over the top friendly, and extremely welcoming. And yet, I still feel at a loss for words whenever I shake his hand, I doubt myself and whether I should even waste his time, I get flustered and sweaty. In Ephesians 3:12 Paul shares that, because of Jesus and through faith we can “approach God with freedom and confidence”. We can approach the creator of the Universe. The Lord or lords, King of kings, the Great I Am… with freedom and confidence… That’s incredible! If I have trouble saying 2 intelligible words to a minor celebrity what is it going to be like to go before the throne of The Lord Most High? Let this thought lead you in worship this week as we do just that. As we come before God at a loss for words but with full confidence and freedom!
“You who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Paul expresses this incredible encouragement in Ephesians 2:13 and makes it clear that it is through the blood of Christ and no other action made by us that has brought us near to God. But Paul doesn’t share this strictly as encouragement. In fact, Paul’s purpose in sharing this is as a challenge. A challenge to be unified. A challenge for the Jews who call Abraham their father to unify with people they wouldn’t have shared a meal with before. Looking at the political climate, the hatred inspired by racial and gender inequality, the frustration between groups of people that can’t agree, and the judgement being cast everywhere I look, helps me better understand the challenges and division experienced by the early church. Paul urged for unity in spite of this division and we, as Christians in America, are a fruit of his labor. How can we draw closer to each other today? Who is someone different from me that I could reach out to this week? How can I pursue peace? How can I set my frustration aside in worship? How can I remember that “through [Jesus] we [all] have access to the Father by one Spirit”?
I grew up going to church but, as many of you know, it wasn’t till college that I felt like I began to strive for a relationship with God. I began to experience His presence in my life, I longed to spend time in the word, I woke up even earlier than necessary to spend time in prayer, in fact my whole day was devoted to prayer, I memorized scripture while walking to class. I began to feel what Paul describes in Ephesians 2:1-10 the idea that I have been made “alive in Christ even when (I was) dead in transgressions”. I began to understand I had been “saved by grace” and my life began to change. Radically. But it didn’t end with me doing things for myself. Paul challenges the church to take this newfound freedom and saving grace and let it drive us to “do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” My life was changed and it led me on a path to giving my everything in order for God to use me to change the lives of everyone I was in contact with. My free-dom led me to action. I continue to remind myself of this truth and work to live into it. Join me in changing this world through the saving grace and freedom found in Christ!
My wife’s grandmother told me a few weeks ago that she’s been praying for my Uncle who is not a Christian. I was blown away! Knowing she was lifting up my family in prayer and desired for him to know God was incredibly meaningful to me. I then found out she consistently prays for MANY MANY people who don’t know Christ yet. This is a discipline that I want to develop in my own life and would encourage any Christian to take up. As we look at Ephesians 2:15-23 Paul takes this a step further by sharing how he has “not stopped giving thanks” and praying for the church in Ephesus. Paul shares that he’s praying for God to give them “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” and “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” all to know God better and understand the incredible gift of grace and inheritance we have been promised. It makes sense to pray for those who don’t know Christ to come to know him but I want to challenge us today to be praying that WE and our church family could continuously know and understand God better. For as we grow to know Him better we will grow to be more like Him.