I was listening to some tunes the other day when I stumbled across an old favourite of mine by Christian artist Jason Gray. The lyrics are beautiful and made me think about the way I’m living my life. The lyrics of the chorus go like this…
“All I know is there’s a better way to live,
We were made for so much more than this,
It’s not the love you have but the love you have to give,
All I know is there’s a better way, a better way to live.”
(From the album ‘Everything Sad is Coming Untrue’ published by Centricity Music in 2009)
It’s all about the love we have to give. And that’s what got me turning again to my Bible, this time to study the famous book of Ephesians. Now how many countless studies have you done on Ephesians with your church? Surely there can’t be anything new to gain from it?
Oh how wrong could you be, my friend!
Ephesians studies love in an entirely new perspective. It talks about Christ’s love for us, how we can be like Christ in our lives, and how our relationships can reflect that love that overflows from within us because of Christ’s sacrifice. When we grasp the almost unfathomable concept that he gave himself to die instead of us, then we can walk with a God and not be called ‘guilty’ and ‘unworthy’ but instead we are called ‘beautiful’, ‘pure’, and ‘child of God’.
Ephesians was written by Paul while still in prison. It’s uncertain precisely when he wrote it and who it was intended for. Some scholars believe it was written only to be read by the church in Ephesus (the capital city of the Roman province of Asia and where Paul had spent some time) but others say it was meant for a wider audience; possibly as a circular for several churches. Either way, it suggests that even while in prison, Paul cared deeply for the people with whom he had shared the Good News.
What is the Good News? That God saves you.
The main teachings of Ephesians are as follows:
Salvation can’t be earned. It is a gift from God reserved for those who love Him. If you love God, nothing you do or don’t do can take away the fact that you are pure and holy in God’s eyes. In return, out of love and respect for him, we are called to praise Him forever because of his amazing grace.
Your identity is defined solely by your faith in Christ. It doesn’t matter to God about your ethnic origins or your background. God loved the Gentiles as much as he loved the Jews and he valued their hearts, souls and minds equally. In the same way, God loves you no matter where you’ve come from, who your family are or what you’ve done. And when you love him, he will bless you in the most unexpected of ways. “And this is God’s plan: both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children.” Ephesians 3:6 (NLT)
To make your relationships work, change how you think to that of Christ’s. This is a hard one. When you’ve been married to a difficult partner for ten years it can be hard to change how you feel towards them. If your parents forever interfere or you live in the shadow of their disappointment, how can you learn to love them after all this time? Ask God. He has the power to gently nudge your attitudes into right ways of thinking. If you have a difficult child, the Holy Spirit can enable you to show her your love again. Ephesians 3:16 (NLT) says “I pray that from [God’s] glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.”
Protect yourself in this spiritual war. First, we must face the fact that we are in the middle of a spiritual war. Satan disguises himself in all sorts of devious ways, but we must accept that he is real and he is against us. Once we’ve come to terms with that terrifying truth, we can start to protect ourselves with the armour that God gives us. Arm yourself with the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the shoes of peace, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth and the sword of the spirit. (For more on this, see Ephesians 6:13-17). Fight through depression and doubt, bullying and rejection, oppression and neglect using this armour. And remember that if God is with you, no one can defeat you.
Ephesians is a treasure trove of spiritual discovery. Only six chapters long, it can be read in one sitting. Verses can be used as chants for meditation and encouragement. But it’s important to remember that the main focus of Ephesians is that it’s all about the love you have to give that leads, through Christ, to a better way to live.
©2015 by Rachel Leathers