Jan. 4, 2009
Second Sunday After Christmas (B)
At this point in the year when we’re trying to recall our Christmas benefactors in order to acknowledge their generosity with an appropriate thank-you note, we do well to remember the spiritual blessings bestowed upon us by our Supreme Benefactor-blessings listed by Paul in Ephesians 1:3-14.
God the Father has chosen to accept us as His children (vv. 3-6). The key words in these verses-“chosen,” “predestined,” “adopted” and “accepted”-were culturally relevant and remain theologically rich terms. Rather than become divisive over precisely what each term means within the contexts of opposing theological systems, we do well just to appreciate the wonderful truth that holy God has chosen to accept us with all of our faults and failures into His family.
There’s an old saying that you can choose your friends but not your family. That’s not necessarily true. One of my sisters-in-law has adopted two children from China. The first, a little girl whom she named Hannah, was chosen by the orphanage for Pam to adopt. The second, however, was a special case.
Pam and her husband chose to adopt a “special needs” boy as their second child. They settled upon the name “Ethan.” This time, the orphanage sent pictures of two little boys and told my sister-in-law to choose the one she wanted. How does a person make such a choice? Pam and Greg were beside themselves, praying, not wanting to make a mistake, knowing their choice would forever affect the lives of two immortal souls, and seeking wisdom from everyone. Finally, another sister-in-law of mine, Barbara, suggested that Pam show Hannah, her 2-year-old daughter, both pictures and ask her which one was Ethan. Hannah looked over them both then said matter-of-factly, “That’s Ethan.” The choice was made. Hannah chose her brother.
God the Father has chosen us-not on the basis of our performance but according to His own good pleasure (v. 5). He has chosen to accept us-not on the basis of our own merits but “in the Beloved.” Like Pam accepted Ethan on Hannah’s identification of him, our Heavenly Father has accepted us at the urging of and as a result of our identification with His Son (
God the Son has redeemed us to be enlightened heirs (vv. 7-12). Adam and Eve sold our race down the river back in Eden. Jesus came to buy us back, that is, to redeem us. The price was His life’s blood.
With forgiveness comes reconciliation, not only with God but with one another. Since Babel, we’ve been a fragmented race living in a fallen world. It has been this way for so long that most folks have come to accept it as normal. It’s not normal.
In Christ we are one (
God the Son wants us to know these things-things planned from eternity past, long before the Fall. He reveals them to us not as a Master to servants, but as a Friend to friends (
God the Spirit has sealed us as a guarantee of greater things to come (vv. 13-14). A monarch’s seal signified his ownership, authority and responsibility for whatever bore his mark. God’s imparted Spirit signifies His ownership of us, His authority over us, and His
responsibility for us.
The Spirit is God’s downpayment on us-an earnest gesture on His part indicating His intention to come back for us later. He will fully claim then what He has on hold now. The work He’s doing now, He will complete then.
Sadly, for many folks these wonderful gifts from our triune God remain unclaimed under Calvary’s tree. If you haven’t already received yours, they’re still waiting for you.