Ephesians in its brevity encapsulates the best of Paul’s message. It is a message of peace, grace and as always encouragement in the Christ life. Paul’s passages in Ephesians are the phrases I want to keep in my head and heart, mindful that as we move to the new day of Easter, we might also think of moving to the new day when the positive message of the gospels and of St. Paul find renewal in our churches, academies and our lives. As we make our way to the renewal of Spring, I want to look at Paul with fresh eyes and be mindful of the changes and challenges inherent in his valuation of the people of God then and today.
Unfortunately, when Christianity became Roman, it also adapted (corrupted) the message of (especially) St. Paul to its own need to rule, dominate, setting the Church on a course that was legalistic, devalued the ‘flesh’ and women. Apparently the early church ‘fathers’ overlooked and/or discarded the message of Ephesians and Philippian. This is what Paul does not want for his converts. Not to live by rules and decrees. But to live in Christ.
Although, by now it should be evident that the totality of Paul’s message needs to be read in a new light, a more critical light, read and understood in its totality so we too can experience true resurrection, liberation from anachronistic readings that promote not the actual gospels themselves but a status quo we are still at pains to free ourselves. So that we might once again not think of ourselves as sinners, but see ourselves as sacred and meant and know God the Father in the Christ Jesus who asks only one thing: to put our faith in him. To live our lives according to the Christ we have received. To have a new life in Christ through the great love with which he loves us.
We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to have life in abundance from the beginning as he meant us to live. (Ephesians 2:9-10)
To have life in abundance. When people query God’s will, this is what he wills for us. Life. Life in abundance. Our well-being, the grace and gift of God. Partakers in Christ of the God-life that we are meant to be. A sacred people. We are original and uniquely created, with the hand of God shaping us from within and without. He breathes his life in us and sustains us in the Spirit of Christ. We are meant to live a good life, in the God who turns everything to the good. In the beginning he saw that what he had made was good. We continue to be good. And when we fall short of the God-life within us we can be assured that we are still loved, the mystery of the Christ life is abundantly within us and available to us.
We are God’s work of art. Our abundance, the infinite treasure of Christ.