February 6, 2018 • Life for Leaders
[God] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
According to Ephesians 1:9-10, God’s plan for the future is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (1:10). In yesterday’s devotion, we discovered why unity is needed and why it matters so much to God. Though sin shattered God’s “very good” world, God cares so much about his creation that he determined to mend its brokenness and to restore both creation and its creatures.
There is a crucial element of God’s plan that deserves our close attention. We could easily miss it because it can sound like theological boilerplate, you know, the sort of thing we learn to ignore because it’s so common. Yet the crucial element of God’s plan is emphasized repeatedly in our passage so that we might not overlook it.
What is this crucial element? It’s captured in a simple phrase: “in Christ.” In our translation, God “purposed in Christ” and will bring unity to all things “under Christ.” A literal translation of the Greek makes “in Christ” even more obvious: “God made known to us the mystery of his will… which he purposed in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on earth in him” (1:9-10, my translation). Christ is the crucial element of God’s plan.
What does the phrase “in Christ” mean and why is it so important to us? You may recall that a few weeks ago, when we were focusing on Ephesians 1:3, I talked about how “in Christ” has several different senses in the New Testament. Sometimes it means “through the agency of Christ.” This meaning is sure present in our passage. Christ is not just the key element of God’s plan, but the key agent, apart from whom the unifying of all things will not occur. Yet, “in Christ” also can have a physical sense. When God brings all things together in Christ, it is almost as if Christ is the place in which this unity happens.
However we understand the nuances of “in Christ,” the main point is that God’s plan is centered in Christ, happens through Christ, and brings all things together in Christ. Christ is crucial to God’s plan in the sense that he is essential to it. (Of course, Christ is crucial also because God brings peace through the cross, as we’ll see in chapter 2.)
What is true of God’s plan for the cosmos is also true of our lives. If we are to experience the unity and wholeness of God, we do so “in Christ.” If we are to live meaningful and productive lives, we do so “in Christ.” If we are to be effective agents of restoration in our world, we will be so “in Christ.” Our lives are to be centered in, filled with, and surrounded by Jesus Christ.
Something to Think About:
Why do you think God’s plan is centered in Christ? Why is Christ so important?
To what extent would you say that your life is “in Christ”?
What difference does Christ make in your daily life? At work? At home? In your community? In your dreams? In your purchases? In how you spend your discretionary time?
Something to Do:
In your small group or with a Christian friend, talk honestly about the difference Christ makes (or might make) in your life.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us. Amen.
Note: This prayer is a version of a part of a prayer attributed to St. Patrick, sometimes called his Breastplate.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Living in Hostile Territory
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.