February 12, 2018 • Life for Leaders
With all wisdom and understanding, he 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.
In recent Life for Leaders devotions, we have seen God’s astounding plan for the fullness of time, namely, “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (1:10). The vision of everything being summed up and put right in Christ is an expansive one, to be sure, even an inspiring one. But we may wonder how God’s plan for the future might make a difference in our everyday living now. In last Friday’s devotion, I suggested that this plan transforms our understanding and experience of work. Today, I want to point to some additional implications by peeking ahead in Ephesians.
Take Ephesians 2, for example. In this chapter, we will learn that we are saved by grace through faith (2:8). Yet the work of Christ accomplishes more than just the salvation of individuals. In the second half of the chapter, we’ll see that the cross destroyed the division between Jews and Gentiles (2:14). Christ’s purpose was “to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace” (2:15). Thus, the unity of 1:10 takes the specific form of unity among formerly divided people, Jews and Greeks, in particular. But Ephesians 2 points to an even more pervasive unity that erases all divisions among people groups. Reconciliation, which includes making right what is wrong, is an essential element of the unifying work of Christ. Therefore, it should also be essential for those of us who seek to follow Christ.
In Ephesians 3, Paul speaks of the “mystery of Christ” as the fact that “the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (3:6). As the church lives out this surprising unity, God’s wisdom is made known to the whole cosmos (3:10). Unity that comes through Christ isn’t merely a theological idea. It is something to be experienced in the actual lives of Christ’s people. The actualized unity among Christians, therefore, becomes the central demonstration of the truth of the Gospel and the success of God’s plan for the cosmos.
In Ephesians 4, we discover how we are to live in light of God’s effort to unify all things in Christ. We are to “live a life worthy of the calling” we have received (4:1). We do this, in particular, by making every effort to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (4:3). The theological truth of unity in Christ should be our passion and our commitment, not just in what we believe, but in how we act in the community of Christ as well as in the wider world.
I could say more about how the vision of unity in Ephesians 1:10 is fleshed out in the rest of the letter. At this point, I simply want you to see that the central mystery of God, his plan to unite all things in Christ, isn’t just lofty theology that makes no earthly difference. In fact, this mystery revealed in Christ has everything to do with who we are as God’s people and how we are to live each day in the world. It speaks to how we live in our families, churches, workplaces, and neighborhoods. It calls us to actualize the reconciliation we have in Christ in our actions, institutions, and systems. God’s plan for unity invites us to be people who, through our words and deeds, bring healing, restoration, justice, and peace to our world, in all its facets.
Something to Think About:
As you think of God’s plan to unite all things in Christ, how might this impact the way you live?
If unity among Christians is so important, why are we Christians so often disunited? What might be done about this?
Something to Do:
Take some moments to ask the Lord how you might live out his plan for unity in your life today. Then, as the Spirit leads you, act on what you hear from the Lord.
Gracious God, you have revealed the mystery of your will, your plan to unite all things in Christ. Help us understand more of what this means. Help us begin to grasp the implications of this amazing truth for our lives. May we live today in light of the unity you have forged and are forging in Christ. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
A Pleasure We Need Today
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.