According to Ephesians 1:4-6, we are God’s people chosen by grace and foreordained for God’s larger plan for the world. We are called to embody the redemptive vision of the creator God. We look to the cross of Christ as redemptive event for the whole creation. In Ephesians 1, Paul uses the old story of the calling and choosing of Abraham and his family to be the bearers of his promised salvation to all peoples. In the same way, as Christians we are part of Abraham’s family through Jesus and therefore like Abraham our ancestor in faith, we are charged with the responsibility to witness to the entire creation and tell the creation that the creator has not abandoned it. The message for us is, God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings not only for us to keep but we are blessed in order for us to be a blessing; Abraham was chosen and blessed by God to be a blessing to all peoples of the earth (Gen. 12:3b).
We are not only chosen, we are also redeemed through the cross (Eph.- 1:7-10). In exodus, the chosen people of God were delivered from the Egyptian slavery with an outstretched arm and a strong right hand in order for them to go forth and worship God and in their worship to witness to the world about the redeemer God. Likewise, in Christ we were enslaved to sin have been redeemed through his shed blood and are therefore freed to worship and witness for Christ as the new people of God. This is in line with God’s plan to finally bring all things together in Christ; things in heaven and on earth (Eph. 1:10).
This mandate to worship and witness is contrary to our seemingly disconnected reality in which our faith convictions are separated from how we actually live our lives. Israel was called and redeemed in order to worship and that their worship would lead them to witness to the nations about God. They were to embody God’s vision in God’s creation. What we know about God and what we do for God must not be separated. You have heard from James that faith without works is dead, but a friend of mine once said, works without faith will kill you! When what we know about God and what we do for God is separated our capacity to be faithful people of God in the world gets greatly diminished and our witness gets skewed by how we live our lives.
In Jesus Christ, heaven and earth is united. Paul says, (Eph 1:10)- God’s plan is to gather all things in Christ (no separated lives) in Christ all is joined once for all forever. As the Holy Spirit empowers us, we embody what Christ already did in himself; in Christ Jesus the twin halves of God’s good creation (heaven and earth) are already joined although the fulness of that has not been realized but we are called to live in that new joined reality. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in and through us enabling us to embody God’s redemptive work in the wholeness of God’s creation.
The point is, you are created in Christ for good works (Eph.2: 10). Paul did not want us thinking that all the blessings we have in Christ as Christians comes as a result of our works, no! we are saved by grace through faith. But having reminded us that our salvation is not earned, the apostle tells us that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works as our way of life. Good works are bigger than moral behavior although it includes moral behavior.
Our mission is God’s mission for God is the creator of all existence and as a people saved by God’s grace, we are co-creators with God charged with a mandate to remind the world that it is still God’s good creation, which is being redeemed through God’s son who loved us and gave his life for us. Therefore with that view in mind, we can confidently say through the eyes of faith that the world is a wonderful place even though it does not look like that at times in our own daily experiences and that we have the mandate to demonstrate to the world through our lives that it is indeed a wonderful place because its creator is wonderful and awesome and is in the process of redeem and reclaiming it. You and I are part of that redemptive reality (Pictures of our mission)
However, we also must remember that whenever God is at work in us there is always a cross to bear for Jesus invited us to deny ourselves and take up the cross daily and follow him. What does cross bearing mean for you? Could it mean stepping out of your comfort zone? And what shape would this take in your life? For Paul, it meant being imprisoned for the sake of Christ, what does is it look like in your life? As you think about that don’t forget to remember that our lord actually gave his life for our salvation.
Finally remember that God is working through the church to declare his vision for the entire creation (Eph.3: 10). Now through the Church (you) God’s manifold wisdom is declared to the principalities and powers, the controlling forces of the world that attempts to make us subservient to them. In Christ and through Christ, you are empowered and called forth to live out the life of the new creation as the Spirit empowers you. There are controlling forces that use money, sex and power, as well as political influence and positions to attempt to want us to live in their own ways. These powers must know that Jesus Christ is Lord and they are not and that message comes from us.
These powers must know that in Christ the dividing walls of hostility fall as people’s lives are transformed in him this transformation brings forth unity as the people of God unite and show the powers that be that they are not in charge of the world, Jesus alone is. Politicians and political allegiances must not dislodge Jesus as our Lord and savior and therefore the one to whom our first priority and allegiance in life rests. We are called to be instruments of God’s redemptive plan in Jesus. We must not live as if our faith does not matter and we must be prepared to carry the cross as we follow Jesus as his disciples.