(Note: For the next six weeks I’ll be posting short devotionals based on a live Bible study I’m leading on Ephesians. For more information about that study and to join us if you are in the area, take a look here: http://www.trillianewbell.com/2018/08/15/lets-study-ephesians/)
My husband and I had two broken engagements before we were married. Yes, two. I was young and immature. I thought I needed to live it up a bit longer when really what I needed was Jesus. I wasn’t a Christian and neither was he. But my Thern continually pursued me. He never held my sin against me. He lavished care and sometimes, even gifts on me. But it wouldn’t be until the Lord sought me and saved me before I would marry this man I have loved now for over 15 years.
The love and the pursuit of any human being pales in comparison to the love and pursuit of God, yet Thern’s persistence and genuine desire for me reflects God’s character that we see in Paul’s praise in Ephesians 1:1-11.
At least seven times we see Paul referencing God’s pursuit of us. The opening praise sets the stage: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing…” (3-emphasis mine). It is God who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. It is God who chose, predestined, and adopted us. It is God who continually gives us grace and we look forward to an inheritance–all by his own will and good purposes.
In the original Greek the first twelve verses is one long sentence, and for good reason! Paul is overwhelmed by the goodness of God to sinful people. It’s an ocean of praise and adoration. And one thing is clear: we did not pursue God—he pursued us. And we would never be able to earn, let alone think of, the spiritual blessings that the Lord bestows upon us: redemption through the blood of Christ, forgiveness of sin, adoption as sons, everlasting love, an imperishable inheritance, grace upon grace, and so much more. And God achieves this through is own Son.
One commentary noted that Jesus is mentioned fifteen times in the first fourteen verses. Jesus made the way for the blessings we receive. Paul reminds us again later in Ephesians that it is not our own doing—it is a gift of God in Christ Jesus (2:4-9). In Christ Jesus and because of Jesus we have the gift of redemption and all that comes with that amazing gift. The cosmic reality of our union with Christ is worthy of our every praise.
We might be tempted to think that we deserve God’s love and affection. We might believe that we earned it by our good works. We might even think that we were the ones who allowed him to have a relationship with us. These verses tell us a different story and I’d dare say a much better one. The God of the universe thought of us, created us, sought us, adopted us, sent His son to die for us, forgives us, and we didn’t do anything but receive it. Like Paul, we praise God for all his blessings and we thank Jesus for his sacrifice. Let’s look to him for all things—He is the giver of good and perfect gifts, namely himself.