“For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus.” vs. 21
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”
The Apostle writes to Christians who have “heard” about Jesus and “were taught” in Jesus. He exhorts them to make sure they deliberately incorporate Christ’s teaching and example into how they live life. They need to know what they stand for and stand strong in that truth.
As a contrast he lifts up those whose lives have no foundation in grace and no values based in compassion, justice and peace. They don’t know what they stand for beyond their own happiness. They seek after their own fulfillment in ways that ultimately lead to “futility”.
A life that follows in the footsteps of Christ is not an easy life. It is not a self gratifying life. It is an “abundant” life – abundant in God’s sovereign grace. It is a “fruitful” life – productive in its impact and influence.
The poet Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” (The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost). In following Christ we do take the road less traveled by, and it does make all the difference.
Take that stand for what is “grace-full” and in this Thanksgiving week be “grateful”. Know that you will be living into the “truth” as it “is in Jesus.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for being the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Thank you for leading me in Your path by Your Spirit and Your Word. Strengthen me to always stand strong in You. Grow me up in Your grace. This I pray in Your holy name. Amen
Have a great week and a Happy Thanksgiving!
But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. Ephesians 4:15
I must confess to often having felt stymied by this concept of growing up into Christ. Any number of times, when reading the stories that illustrate the compassion, the wisdom, the humility, the healing powers of Christ, I have told myself, “But He’s God, I’m just a human being. How could I ever know human nature in that way? How could I have the security to have that depth of selfless love? Or, only God is capable of a miracle like that, that’s a chasm too impossible to bridge for an ordinary mortal!”
Maybe the key is found in the words “grow up”. Think about growing up as a human being. Beginning as a baby, it’s something that doesn’t happen all at once. A child’s developmental process of knowing themselves and their place in the world – physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally – is marked by many interactions resulting in varieties of successes and failures. Much nurturing by others is also necessary to arrive at a healthy maturity. It takes time and experience.
Growing up into Christ then is also probably marked by trial and error, successes and failures, and it also depends on interacting with others who are further along the path. The ultimate interaction must be with God, with a prayerful question perhaps as simple as “What did Jesus do in this situation?” Or, perhaps, “What would Jesus do?” (a phrase often trivialized, but still important, I believe). Over time, in situation after situation, the mind and heart of Christ begins to take shape in us, providing guidance and direction. That in itself is a miracle – who knows where it might lead? Only God!
“equip the saints for the work of ministry”
Ephesians teaches that we are one in Christ but different as the ear is different from the hand of the same body. The ear and the hand could not be any different but they are made one because of the body to which they belong. Verse 11 lists the different jobs but I feel that this list is to limited or our understanding is too limited. I think about the new initiative that SVUMC is starting called Kids Hope. This is a mentoring program for elementary age children. One of the things I love about it is that a person can contribute in three different and distinct ways. One can be the mentor, or be a prayer partner to that relationship, or one can assist financially to facilitate that relationship. What I love about this is it makes me think even deeper about all of the other components that have to be in place to make this happen. There has to be a school district that allows this to happen, a principal to lend their support, a school staff to help, a custodian that provides a clean place to do it all in. The body of Christ is the same way. There is a place for you in the family of God, there is a purpose for you in the church. No one job is more important than the other.
What is your part?
Bert K. Johnson
“But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7
So many gifts…our Bible is full of great stories about people of faith who brought a variety of gifts and talents to their ministry. Some are gifts I recognize in myself, and some gifts I just don’t have, but I have seen those gifts at work in the Church of Christ…in friends or family members.
But this gift – the gift of grace – is a gift that has been given to each of us! When we know ourselves to be loved by God, we also know ourselves to be the recipient of his grace. And the gift of grace is truly a gift to be shared with others. As we share God’s grace with others, we will become the Church of Jesus Christ.
Suzan N. Meyer
Differences can divide. But they don’t have to!
The setting for this Scripture was the great divide in the ancient world between Jews and Gentiles. Their languages, life-styles, belief systems and so much else was so different.
Yet as Jews and Gentiles claimed Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord there was an underlying, foundational unity between them. The Apostle calls these “dissimilar Christians” to claim the unity, to live with the “oneness” that is theirs in Christ, and to walk worthy of the calling to which they were called.
In our very divided day where politics, life-sytles, and value systems can be so different, even among Christians, maintaining a “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is a gift of grace which believers can give to one another and our world. To listen and learn, to avoid taking harsh positions and making hasty judgments, to respect and and strive for mutual dignity with those whom we disagree is a work of love.
We are called to this “work”, not surrendering what you believe but also not condemning others for what they believe. As we seek after Unity in the midst of this dynamic tension we find ourselves growing in grace. We discover there new and better ideas and ways to advance the Kingdom of God. The differences that could divide become a source of creativity and Christ’s transforming truth for today.
Today “lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…” and see where Jesus in his grace will take you.
Prayer: Lord, in our divided country and world, thank you for calling me to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Strengthen me by your Spirit to fulfill your Holy Will. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Have a great week,
“Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.” Ephesians 3:7
Grace…the undeserved favor of God that I receive on a daily basis…has nothing to do with my personal qualities or gifts and has everything to do with the giver of grace. This love and mercy is offered to me not because I have done anything to earn it – but simply because God desires me to have it. God’s grace flows to me from his great love for me.
As I understand myself to be loved and desired by God – my natural response is to love God. And as I understand others to be loved and desired by God – my natural response will be to love them.
And so today, I will choose to live into God’s active presence and grace in my life. And, I will choose to share the “boundless riches of Christ” with others. Ephesians 3:8
Suzan N. Meyer
“surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you…”
As we prepare to celebrate Veteran’s Day in the coming week, I’m grateful for those who serve and have served our country. And I’m thankful for those in our military who have provided commissioned leadership, taking on added responsibility for accomplishing the mission of defense and protection.
In this Scripture the Apostle reflects on his “commission”. He understands it as a “commission of God’s grace”. He has been given leadership responsibility in accomplishing God’s mission of carrying the grace of Christ to those who have been the outsiders (the Gentiles).
Commissioning is not only for the military or the Apostle. It is for me and you too! We all are part of the mission of carrying the grace of Christ to someone else. Opportunities for the mission present themselves daily in the people we meet and the circumstances we face. When we find ourselves in one of those moments we need to remember there is a “commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you…” and then live into that call.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your faithful servants, like the Apostle Paul, who lived into the commission you gave him. Strengthen me by your Spirit to live into the commission of grace that you give me today for others. In your holy name I pray.
Have a great and grace-filled week!
In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; Ephesians 2:21
I’ve always been amazed at how brilliantly orchestras, particularly the string sections of orchestras, can play such difficult music so perfectly together, every note from each player in such perfect rhythm and the same phrasing. The explanation for that lies not only in that each player is a highly accomplished artist, but that the conductor is guiding everyone in the same direction, and they are all following his or her leadership.
The church is like that too, ideally, each one of us being led by the spirit of Christ, as we band together to be the Body of Christ in the here and now. Are you following the “conductor”, or are your eyes on something else? Is our structure “ragged” or strong and holy?
I am grateful that God is in the business of binding us together, no matter what the rest of the world is doing!
It is clear that this portion of Ephesians teaches us that because of the Jesus and his sending of the Holy Spirit and our Faith in both, we have been made one. For me this is a perfect example that scripture can take on different meanings depending on when we read it, what is going on around us, or out present emotional state. Today is recognized, in the Church universal, as All Souls Day. A day when we remember all of those that have walked this sod before us and we rejoice that because of Jesus, and all he gave to us, we are joined with them by God’s Spirit. It is on days like this, when the vail of this world and the next is so thin that it can be overwhelming. On days like today, I wish I could live everyday with the abiding realization of God’s unifying Spirit.
Dear God, help us live everyday in the light of your peace that comes to us when we dwell on your great love for us that was shown through your Son, Jesus. Oh God, give us daily reminders of our oneness because of your Spirit that dwells in us. Amen
Bert K. Johnson
“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” Ephesians 2:14
These words offer us a very timely reminder that not only is peace possible, but it comes to us through Christ Jesus. As we allow the peace of Christ to thrive, grow and guide our lives – that peace can and will break down the hostility and dividing walls that humans have built. Too often, we seem to find ourselves focusing more and more on our differences while failing to notice and embrace our commonalities. Sometimes, we allow differences of opinions to cause us to devalue another person’s worth or humanity. As the people of the church grow towards becoming one in Christ – we will be in a unique position to be salt and light to the world, living lives that show the world reconciliation in action.
Perhaps our greatest job is cooperation with Christ’s Spirit…the spirit that “creates in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace…” Ephesians 2:15
Suzan N. Meyer