Day 327 “Knowing Love” Ephesians 3 – 4
November 23, 2021, 9:05 AM

Day 327 “Knowing Love” Ephesians 3 – 4

We miss the big point of what we are doing, reading the Bible in a year, if we don’ t think of it as a way in which we ourselves are developing our relationship with Jesus. If I were doing this as a prurely academic exercise, that would be different, but I am reading the Bible in a year because I want to know more about someone I love. I am studying the Bible in a year and writing about it because I want a better relationship with someone I love. Ephesians is a letter that has helped people fall in love with Jesus. One man, John Mackay, who became the leader of Princeton Theological Seminary, found his faith in the pages of this letter to the Ephesians, for we know by now that each of these letters has something to do with our own lives as well.

At the age of 14, Mackay, who was Scottish, experienced a “boyish rapture in the Highland hills [and I] made a passionate protestation to Jesus Christ among the rocks in the starlight.” But it’s the next few phrases that capture me: “I saw a new world…Everything was new…I had a new outlook, new experiences, new attitudes to other people. I loved God, Jesus Christ was the center of everything…I had ‘quickened’; I was really alive.” [1]

That last line “I was really alive”—that’s the power of what the Bible can do if we are willing to be swept away by the promises, and if we allow ourselves to rest in the fact that we will continue to wrestle with some aspects. I choose life!!!

Alistair really captured the message of grace that is at the center of the letter. This is certainly a gentler Paul than the man who was stomping around and yelling at the Galatians, isn’t it? Paul’s letter also emphasizes the unity that is possible when we are followers of Jesus in our hearts and lives, and this part could make me a little weepy to be honest. I am so tired of a world where all we do is talk about how polarized we are! Vaxxers, anti-vaxxers. Fake news, real news. You know the way this goes and how consuming it is for our culture today. And I want us to become as passionate about the possibility of unity as we are about the conversations that speak about our brokenness, our enmity, our distance from one another.

Now Paul is talking about people who profess faith in Christ, so maybe I can’t rope our whole contemporary culture into this conversation, but I also passionately believe that Christians, or followers of the Way, have been given WAY more love than we know what to do with, and that we have more than enough love to give away, if we choose to do so. In other words, the love of Christ can bridge the gaps in our culture, as it always has, because love heals, blesses and unites.

In chapter 4 we read some very familiar verses that we hear in our Baptismal service: “There is one body, one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” (4: 4). How many of us have less than charitable thoughts about other Christian groups or churches? I get pig-biting mad when I hear people insult or dismiss other churches because their practices are different. We are allowed and encouraged to find the worship space where we feel most deeply connected to God, but that does not give us permission to pass judgment on other traditions!

When I worked in the Cathedral, one priest, now in God’s gracious keeping, said to me “I hope the creepy-crawlies don’t show up today. They upset the order.” Do you know what he was referring to? People who raise their hands in prayer! Creepy crawlies??? When do we get the permission to characterize other Christians in that way? I was wildly offended, but of course, I said nothing because this man was my superior and I was in training at the time. This was the same priest, who, as we were about to do the grand procession into the Cathedral on Sunday morning with incense swirling around us, with the Men and Boys Choir nearby who were about to burst into song, who then said to me “Dear, the earrings have to go.” I frantically pulled them out of my ears (and no, I was NOT wearing ridiculously sparkly earrings, ok? They were pearl drops that hung below my ear lobe and that was too much for him.) but having no pockets in my robes, I had to juggle them and babysit them for the remainder of the service.

But here is the truth. I loved that man. Honestly. He had so much else to teach me, and I watched his decline even as we worked together and profoundly mourned his death. However, I do think that I would be braver today, and might quote a little Ephesians at him.

John McKay, from the beginning of the blog today, found that he was “clothed in the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness,” (4: 24) as we read in Paul’s letter to Ephesus, but that doesn’t mean Mr. McKay became magically perfect once he walked in the Way—he was only 14! Paul continues to be a Life Coach and advise Mr. McKay, and all the Mr. and Ms. McKays of the world since the time of Christ and before: “Let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” (4: 25-26).  Wait—did you read that—“Be angry”?? Of course we are going to get angry and we’re going to gossip, ‘forget’ to tell the truth—all sorts of things. Our job as followers of Jesus is to find our way back to his path, back to a place of peace and reconciliation and unity, which can be hard work, but it IS the work we are called to do as ambassadors of Jesus.

To close, our Study Bible has the most wonderful phrase written by Madeleine L’Engle: “I know that when I am most monstrous, I am most in need of love…I am not lovable when I am enraged, although it is when I most need love.” (p. 1385).

Even when everyone else finds you (and me!) impossible and unlovable, Jesus will stand with you, will hold onto you, and will forgive you. Our job is to do the same for someone else.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,



[1] The Bible Speaks Today series, ed John Stott “Ephesians” 15.

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