The Church: as seen in the book of Ephesians
by Nigel Field
In our current times, having the influence and example of huge corporations and big business, chain stores, marketing messages, media and entertainment, perhaps it is of no surprise that the church in the west has become partakers of this culture. These things are so much our everyday norm that we have not even questioned this when we think of church. Church has become more a place of entertainment than an identity of who we are as a called-out people. Perhaps the fear is that if we do not do these things, we will lose our younger, trendier people to the places that do. Without overstating things, the church has lost faith in the truth and power of word of God, and in God himself. Do we want something more self-pleasuring than what we believe God will provide?
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, speaks much truth into our situation now. To get a sense of who we are called to be as the church will take faith, to hear and receive what God is saying in this letter.
When reading Ephesians from the beginning, we quickly discover Christ is the glorious theme of this letter. We read that God’s “plan for the fullness of time, [is] to unite all things in him [i.e. Jesus], things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10). In the preceding verses we read how we have been “blessed…in Christ…in the heavenly places; [God] chose us in him…to be holy and blameless; predestined us for adoption…through Jesus Christ; and making known to us the mystery of his will…set forth in Christ” (Eph 1:3-9).
The mystery referred to is that God has made known to us “the mystery of his will…which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10).
Paul continues to write (vv.22-23):
“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all”.
This idea to unite all things in Christ begins with the church, who models this as a physical ‘body’ with Christ as its head. We must understand that Jesus Christ has so identified himself with us that we are his very body. The implications of this must give us pause for thought as to how we live this out, and how we ‘behave’ as his body.
In chapter two we learn how we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked... . But God…made us alive together with Christ…and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. Yet we were at one time “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel…having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:1-12).
Do we hear this, that those who believe are now united with the commonwealth of Israel, historically a people and culture at odds with us, and we were hostile towards each other? Yet true Israel, those who believed and obeyed God’s word had faith, and that faith was faith in the Christ who had not yet been seen. They were God’s chosen people and yet God’s plan now is, in Christ, to include us who weren’t descended from Israel and to unite us as one body.