I walked into the doctor’s office, and everyone in the waiting room was on his or her phone. I took my child to karate, and all the parents sat nearby, engrossed with their phones. I walked into my neighbor’s house, and the whole family was in the living room, each focused on a different screen. They were all near one another, yet so far apart.
Life in our modern world is a life apart. And it’s not just a technology issue. Our society is experiencing increased polarization, division, and brokenness. New studies report that loneliness and depression are on the rise. For the all the advances that would seem to bring us together, we find ourselves further isolated. We suffer distance from our family, our friends, our neighbors—and God.
In the Book of Ephesians, Paul is writing a letter to an early Christian church in the city of Ephesus. As we can see through Paul’s writing, life in Ephesus was a life apart, too. Their world was broken and divided, infected with forces that pulled and teared at their relationships, their faith. Paul acknowledges that Christians are not only distant from other people but fundamentally divorced from God by our sin.
But Paul also offered the church at Ephesus words of comfort. We, too, can take comfort in the promises he proclaimed: amidst the brokenness of this world there is “a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). That plan isn’t offered up by our government. It won’t be fulfilled through social media. And you don’t need an internet connection to be part of it. The plan is summarized in a Person, Jesus Christ himself.
Through faith and by his Word, we know God is enacting his plan. Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross is proof. Left to depend on our own plans, we would never be able to come to faith, to come together in worthwhile relationships, or to serve others. It is incredibly good news that God has a plan in spite of our failures. Like a bone that has been fractured, God’s saving work in Jesus “sets” things right again. Jesus’ own body was broken that we might be made whole.
Jesus’ sacrifice brings lost sinners back to God and back to each other. What does this look like locally? in a church of believers? in an individual Christian? Throughout Ephesians, Paul provides the answers by emphasizing that the Gospel affects both belief and behavior in Christians.
Paul writes about ever-deepening faith, a hope-filled belief rooted in the heart of the Christian. He wanted the Ephesians to have “the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of [God]” (Ephesians 1:17). By the power of God’s Word, we seek a growing faith that’s firmly planted deep in our own hearts. We trust God’s immeasurable love revealed in Christ’s sacrificial death for us.
Not only has Christ brought us back to God through faith, but he calls us to behave in a way that reflects our faith. In his letter, Paul discusses the heart and soul, the feet, hands, and lips of the Christian. We are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:1–2).
Our lives are an active part of God’s plan to bring all things together in Christ. God works faith in us and actions through us. And by God’s work, we are brought together with those around us—our family, church, neighbors, and world. Paul reminds us:
In [Christ] you also are being built together (Ephesians 2:22 ESV).
In Christ, God is continually transforming us as we to come together more and more as his people. We are being built as God’s house, a dwelling place where he resides. This is where the world will see Jesus, their Savior—in us! Despite the brokenness, the failures, the fighting, and the disconnect, we remain the family of God. We strive to love each other and love our world together, living as Christ’s Church.
Prayer: Father in heaven, you have brought us together under the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. By your grace, grow us as a family. Shape and form us by your Word. Govern and guide us by your Holy Spirit. Use us so that others might also find life together with you. We are at your service. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Editor’s note: Today’s devotion comes from one of CTA’s latest resources, Together: Living as Christ's Church. This devotion book and digital teaching tools come together to form a five-week experience that will encourage your worshipers to see how God is bringing everything in this world together. God sent Jesus for us, and he sends Jesus into the world through us, living as Christ’s Church!
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2019 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.
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