Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas 2c - Ephesians 1:3-14

Ephesians 1:3-14

Paul spent a good bit of time in Ephesus but it was not as pleasant as the opening of his letter might lead one to believe. He was imprisoned more than once and faced opposition so far beyond his ability to endure that he despaired of life itself. But he stayed on despite feeling himself under the sentence of death because of the opportunities that persecution presented him. It is in the face of external opposition and inner turmoil that Paul makes these claims that seem to fly in the face of reason. You are holy and blameless and blessed with every spiritual blessing. You were destined from the beginning of time to inherit the riches of God’s grace and sealed by the promised Holy Spirit to live for the praise of God’s glory. These are words of encouragement for Paul as well as the Ephesians to see beyond the temporal into the eternal and so endure even though the whole world conspired to persecute the church to death. While we do not suffer such persecutions we do experience hardships beyond our ability to endure and one does not need to be thrown into prison or face wild beasts in the arena to despair of life itself. The temptation is to believe the temporary will never end because what Paul might call slight and momentary hardships are anything but when you are the one living in them. But that is why faith looks to the past, before the foundation of the world when we were chosen by God and into the future when the inheritance of unfading glory will be fully realized. It does not mean we will not despair of life itself or face hardships beyond our ability to endure. It does mean that all is not lost even if your whole world conspires against you because the present, no matter how long it lasts, is temporary and even if you cannot endure God will. And that is a promise you can count on no matter what.

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