I’ve recently been studying the book of Ephesians and I’d like to start there. This book has a warm little cozy spot in my heart because it contains the first scripture passages that I ever read, way back in Mr. Meier’s 7th grade class at Northwest Lutheran School. It feels good to dig in there.
Paul wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus-- a brand new community that was beginning its journey following Jesus. Paul’s letter provides an outline for what this sacred community looks like. A people defined by the overwhelming love of God in Jesus. He uses a powerful illustration: adoption.
Gulp. You might already know that our family is in the middle of the adoption process. What that really means is that we are waiting. Our homestudy is done. Now we wait for a match. I dream about what he or she will be like. I swoon over babies at the grocery store. I can’t wait to see what God has planned.
So when I read Ephesians 1, the adoption analogy is real. But it’s also so very humbling. This is what Paul had to say,
In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace,which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. (Eph. 1:4-7)
It was always the Jewish people who had the corner on access to God. You had to be born in, a part of the family. Paul is painting a picture of a family that is connected by Jesus, not race or tradition. We are adopted into the family of God, full children with full benefits of being part of the family.
I hadn’t really thought much about the benefits of being part of a family. Paul goes on later in chapter 1 to talk about inheritance.
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13-14)
I don’t know about you, but I have very little experience with inheritance. An inheritance wasn’t something we expected in our family. We don’t really come from a culture of inheritance. In Paul’s time, inheritance was important. Land and wealth were passed down to sons, it was expected. Parents wanted their daughters to marry into families with a good legacy. The inheritance you would receive could bring you great pride or great embarrassment.
Friends, we have received an inheritance, and it’s not because we were born into a prominent family line-- we have been adopted-- gathered in, called sons and daughters of the Most High God. We are included in the great inheritance: redemption, hope, a place in heaven. God doesn't love us at a distant. We are not God's second cousins. We are not that weird uncle who only visits at Christmas. We are beloved children. God doesn't hold back, we are welcomed in, sharing in the intimate family life of living daily with Him.
I have been hearing a particular statement from very well intentioned friends and family about our adoption journey (I’m sure every adoptive parent hears the same):
“That child will be so blessed to have you as parents.”
This is the humbling part. We don’t have a glorious inheritance for our child. I’m not talking about bank account here. We don’t have much to offer. We are broken, we are sinful. We lose our tempers, we are impatient, we are selfish, we don’t get it right. Wearing our last name doesn’t bring special honor.
But this is what it does mean: We will give you the name of Jesus. You, little child, will carry the name of Jesus with you. You will be a son or daughter of the Most High God. We will do our best with you, but you belong to Jesus. You will not be blessed because of us-- we have so little to offer. You will be blessed because you are in the palm of your Creator.
We, too, have been given the name of Jesus to wear. Let’s go, this week, bearing His name, leaning on the promises of redemption and hope.
Let’s see what God has planned.