August 20, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Ephesians 2:11-13 (NIV)
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Superheroes save us by using their super-human powers. Jesus saves us, but not in this way. He is not your average superhero. Rather, Jesus sacrifices his life on the cross, shedding his blood so that we might be reconciled to God and to each other. Through Christ we can know the fullness of peace: peace with God and peace among people.
When I was young, I loved superheroes. Okay I still do. I’ll admit it. Once my favorites were Superman and Batman. Though I still have a boyish admiration for them, these days I’m most excited about Wonder Woman and Black Panther.
Most superhero movies have more or less the same storyline: something really bad happens; things are desperately wrong and hopeless; then, a superhero shows up to save the day.
A similar narrative appears in Ephesians 2—twice, in fact. In the first half of the chapter, we are dead in our sins, in bondage to sinful desires and the devil, and deserving God’s judgment. But God intervenes, giving us new life and freedom through Christ. The second half of Ephesians 2 begins along the same lines. Here, we Gentiles are separated from God’s people (Israel) and their blessings (the Messiah, covenants of promise, hope, God). But God does not abandon us. We read, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
The bad news for us Gentiles is that we were once “far away” from God and all of God’s blessings. The good news is that we “have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). We have been gathered into the people of God, a people, as we shall soon see, that includes both Jews and Gentiles. Also, we have been brought near to God because of what Christ has done for us. The story that begins with our separation from God and his people ends with a multidimensional unity forged by Jesus Christ through his death.
Notice that Jesus isn’t a superhero in the ordinary sense, one who saves us by exercising his superior powers. He doesn’t have radioactive blood, like Spider-man. Rather, he has saving blood. Jesus saves us by giving his life for our sake, sacrificing himself, not only so that we might be saved as individuals, but also so that broken, separated, and hostile humanity might be reconciled in peace.
What are some of your favorite fictional stories?
Do they include a basic storyline similar to that of Superman and Ephesians 2?
Have you experienced being brought near to God and his people through Christ?
You might find the following exercise fun, especially if you like superheroes. Make a list of ways in which your favorite superhero is both like and unlike Jesus. What do the similarities and differences show you? (A bit of trivia: Superman’s real, Kryptonian name is Kal-El, which, in Hebrew, means “voice of God.” Hmmm.)
Gracious God, thank you for not abandoning me when I was far away from you. Thank you for reaching out to me with your love, for drawing me near to you in Christ. Thank you for making me a member of your people, so that I might receive the blessings of fellowship with them as well as with you. May I live today in this fellowship, with gratitude and joy. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Best of Daily Reflections: Should We Act Like Superheroes?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.