Here is the passage we read yesterday to start Ephesians. Now let's dig!
1:1 "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved."
It may not seem like it but there is an incredible amount of concepts and truths jammed into those few verses. You can feel the excitement and joy of Paul as he writes about it. What is most shocking is not what Paul is saying but who he is saying it to. Ephesus was a Greek city. At the time the 3rd largest city in Asia minor most known for the temple of Artemis. The city had an outdoor theatre that held 25000 people and was well known for gladiator matches. There is a large graveyard of gladiators to this day.
Why am I telling you this? Because it was a "pagan, evil, heathen" city. Prior to Jesus you would not have Jews even going there much less teaching them about the love of God. Then Jesus came and turned their self centered judgmental thinking upside down. He plows through borders and lays racial and cultural divides in the dust. His openness to others shocked everyone including his own disciples.
Following His lead the apostle Paul made it his life mission to take the good news to the ends of the known earth. Listen to what he is saying to Greek people in a city dominated by the worship of a false god:
God made plans to win you back to Himself and adopt you as sons and daughters before He ever created the world! It was His plan from the beginning to have you with Him. It is His destiny for you. Through His Son He made it possible for all of us no matter our language, culture, nation, colour etc... to be considered spotless, holy! It was His good pleasure to do this. This is God the Father we're talking about. Jesus did not have to beg Him to give us a chance. It was and is His good pleasure. "Fear not little flock for it your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom!" - Jesus
By the grace He has given us in Jesus we are accepted in the Beloved. If that can be true for people from Ephesus, who were as far removed from God as any culture could be, we have no excuse but to rejoice that we too are accepted in the Beloved.
What I love most about these verses is not what it says about us but what it says about Him. What a Father we have!!! How misunderstood He too often is. We project our attitudes and brokenness onto Him and see Him as we are. It is all lies. Jesus said "If you have seen Me you have seen My Father".
The next time you are tempted to doubt where you stand check the verb tense. "He made us accepted in the Beloved." It is finished.
It only gets better from here. See you tomorrow