WHAT EPHESIANS TEACHES US ABOUT OUR PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE by Edward T. Welch for Core Christianity
The Rich Story of Scripture
You probably have a friend or family member who has told the same story dozens of times, but somehow, each time, you are still interested in hearing it. Stories that have this kind of staying power are not simply entertaining. They are instructive. They are about the past but affect the present and might even point the way to a future.
That’s what we want to do with Scripture. We want to be able to tell and retell the story and have it shape us. This will help us remember it and quickly return to it when life’s troubles come our way.
Ephesians 1:3–14 is a particularly rich way of telling the story of Scripture, and Paul’s excitement is such that the original passage is one long, breathless sentence. The flow of his thought goes from past, to present, to future.
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Our past is a mess of good things and horrible things. The way we tell it at age twenty is different from the way we tell it at sixty. Paul assumes we all have our particular stories; he is telling the deeper one, one that we are all a part of:
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:4–5)
And what does this story of being chosen and predestined for adoption have to do with past victimization, rejection, or loss? It certainly does not minimize them. If anything, it shows their wrongness even more vividly because they are against God and his original intent. What the story does is counterbalance our past with a story of love, grace, and belonging that says, “Evil and misery will not win,” and “Things are not what they seem.” Every retelling of the story, as it gathers more details of the blessings we have in Jesus, adds more weight to the master story.
This is reality for those who follow Jesus. He pursued us. We were loved and adopted by him. This means that life in Christ is not an extended probation. Since his love is not dependent on our vacillating allegiances but on choices he made long ago, we rest in Jesus and have a revitalized purpose now that we are in the royal family.