Tuesday 16 October 2012

Bible Book:

"I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance amongst the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of this great power." (vv. 17-19)

Ephesians 1:15-23 Tuesday 16 October 2012


The body of Christ is a familiar image from the writings ofPaul. In 1 Corinthians 12 the focus of the image is theneed for all parts of the body to work together. For this writer,however, the focus of the image is Christ, who is the head of thebody, the Church. The writer is using the word 'head' in at leasttwo senses. Christ is the head of the Church - without which theother parts of the body cannot be effective - but Christ is alsothe heading under which every power in the universe is added up(verse 10).

Combining these universal claims with the repeated use of thewords glory and power and the notion of election (verses 4, 11) itwould be easy to think that here is a triumphalist theology,claiming the power of God for a new chosen people. What is missingfrom this picture, though, are the actual circumstances of theChristians being addressed. They were not the powerful of theearth, or members of the dominant culture, with the might of anempire behind them, as generations of Christians have been since.Rather, they were a small and persecuted minority, tempted to befatalistic at the mercy of all kinds of powers and big names.

Authentic Christianity proclaims Christ crucified. This isalways a matter of both glory and of shaken-ness. For a powerfulelite to take the words of Ephesians 1 and use them to bolstertheir own sense of chosen-ness in life is quite a different thingfrom a group of slaves or refugees realising that God is greaterthan any other power in earth or heaven. When we are strong we needto remember that power is revealed in weakness and to be insolidarity with the world's 'little ones'. When we are threatenedand know our weakness, we need to return to this passage, and theassurance that we are not forgotten, but are chosen by God, andthat Christ is the one in the end in whom everything will makesense.

To Ponder

Think about the ways in which your church holds together gloryand shaken-ness.

  • To what extent is it a community that needs to remember thatpower is revealed in weakness?
  • How far is it a community that needs not to be intimidated bypowers other than God?
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