The pay off has been rich.
In the past, there were really only two parts of this epistle that I had paid that much attention to; the beautiful passage of 2:1-10 and the armour of God passage in chapter 6. So needless to say, my view of Ephesians was a tad small. What was really lacking of my past experience with Ephesians was Paul’s robust theology and identity of the Church. And so was mine. I still have much work to do in this area but man, there’s some good stuff about who the Church is in Ephesians.
One of the things I love about Paul is that he always grounds how we live in the gospel. He always tells us first who we are before reminding us how we should live.
In other words, gospel proclamation is the fuel of heart change. It is only in our fully grasping our standing in Christ that we are free to actually see transformation in our lives. The reason for that is that we aren’t the one effecting the change. By his Spirit applying the gospel to our lives through our faith in Christ is the only way that God can give us the heart change we so desperately need.
I want to go back to something I just said for a minute. This idea of fully grasping our standing in Christ is not something that we grasp intellectually. I should say it is not only something we grasp intellectually. To only “understand” our standing intellectually means we don’t have a fully orbed understanding of how God has redeemed us in Christ. This is one of the weaknesses, I believe in the Reformed world. We, in the Reformed world, care more about the intellectual understanding of theological concepts and doctrine than we do the redemption of the whole person, I fear. We are far too close to being Gnostic if we’re not careful. Before all the Reformed guys attack me for saying that, stop for a second and ask yourself some hard questions first.
Here’s partly what I mean by it not being merely intellectual. We need to be able to not only grasp redemption from an intellectual standpoint but also live it out from a physical standpoint. See, Jesus came to redeem our whole person. He didn’t just come to teach a set of doctrines or theological concepts, even though he also did that. He came to save our whole person.
Let me explain a bit further.
We are not just brains on a stick. I read that somewhere but can’t remember where so apologies to whoever coined that phrase for not using your name. We’re not just brains on a stick. We are more than intellectual beings. We are embodied souls. We are minds, yes. We are souls, yes. But we are also flesh, muscle, bone, blood etc…We are embodied. God meant something when he made us flesh.
God meant something when he came in the second person of the Trinity, incarnate in flesh, in a man named Jesus of Nazareth. If God is making for himself a people (made up of human flesh including the human flesh of Jesus) then we can’t neglect the redemption of our flesh in our theology.
This is one of the many things I love about the liturgical church. Liturgical worship incorporates the whole person. We stand, we speak, we sing, we sit, we kneel, we come to the altar and receive bread and wine. We eat and drink, we shake hands and hug and pass along God’s peace to one another. We worship with our whole being: mind, body and soul. And it is wonderfully refreshing and thick and real and ties our worship to who God has made us to be:
The body of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!