June 21, 2018 • Life for Leaders
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.
A week ago, I wrote about what might be called “The Great Omission.” It has to do with how we understand our salvation in Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 reveals the astounding good news that we are saved by grace through faith, not by our works. We celebrate the fact that by grace alone we have been saved for eternal life in God’s future after we die. But, all too often, we omit the fact that our salvation is so much more than a “ticket to Heaven.” In fact, we begin to experience salvation in this life because we are “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (2:10). We are not saved by good works but for a rich and full life of doing good works that God has prepared for us.
If the first “Great Omission” comes in Ephesians 2:10, I would suggest that the latter portion of this chapter might be called “The Second Great Omission.” You see, Ephesians 2:11-22 reveals further dimensions of our salvation given by God’s grace. This passage shows how salvation transforms not just our personal lives but also our relationships, our lives in community with others. The cross of Jesus Christ is meant to transform social structures and even cultures. Salvation has everything to do with how we live together as well as how we live individually.
A simple word in Ephesians 2:11 makes it abundantly clear that the second half of the chapter is connected to the first half as an elaboration of salvation by grace through faith. This word, the first word of verse 11, is “therefore” in English (dio in Greek). Though verse 11 introduces new ideas, it is based on verses 1-10. Moreover, as we’ll see, the flow of thought in verses 11-13 intentionally mirrors the flow of thought in verses 1-4. God’s grace in Christ not only brings us from death to life, but also brings unity to the brokenness of humanity.
If we stop for a moment to remember what happened when sin entered the world, we should not be surprised by what we will soon discover in the second half of Ephesians 2. As you recall, when Adam and Eve sinned, the very first result was interpersonal. They sewed fig leaves together in order to hide from each other (Genesis 3:7). Later in Genesis 3, God spells out other ways in which human beings will experience brokenness in their relationships because of sin (Genesis 3:16). So, if God were to save us from sin and its results, as in Ephesians 2:1-10, then we should expect that salvation to mend not only our relationship with God but also our relationships with each other.
If you are intrigued by the relational dimension of salvation, I would encourage you to read all of Ephesians 2:11-22. It might be even more helpful to read all of Ephesians 2 together, to get a clear sense of the flow of the argument. In Monday’s reflection, we’ll examine further verses 11-13 of Ephesians 2. For now, let me encourage you to consider the follow questions.
Something to Think About:
Where, in our world today, do you see clearly how sin damages relationships and, indeed, the social order?
In what ways have you experienced the relational and social results of sin?
In what ways have you experienced God’s salvation having relational and social ramifications?
Something to Do:
As you go through this day, keep your eyes open to seeing how sin is manifested in broken relationships and social structures. Allow the Lord to give you a new perspective on the world in which you live.
Gracious God, as we begin a new section of Ephesians, we thank you for what lies ahead. Help us understand in a fresh and deep way the breadth and depth of our salvation. Expand our minds. Renew our hearts. Heal our relationships. Transform us so that we might be agents of transformation in this world. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is the Executive Director of Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he is the principal writer of Life for Leaders and the program lead of the Third Third Initiative. Previously, Mark was the senior pastor of a church in Southern California and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. Mark has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,000 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 has taught 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.
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