Ephesus: A Blueprint for Christian Living – The Gospel Continued

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Ephesians 2:1-22

Seeing straight

Most mornings I wake up and as I get started with my day, I wander about the house doing all the things that most people do in the morning. About five or ten minutes into the routine, I look around and notice that everything is blurry and remember to get my glasses. You would think after having to wear glasses of one kind or another for the better part of thirty years I would simply get up and put them on first thing out of the gate but for whatever reason, I don’t. I stumble around for the first few minutes of the day before really trying to see something and realizing I need my glasses.

I remember I was a senior in high school when I got my first pair of prescription glasses. I really didn’t need them for anything other than reading but it was the first sign that my eyesight was going to go downhill from then on. I was able to hold off on having to wear glasses all the time for a few years after, but it wasn’t long until I found myself buying glasses to wear all the time and eventually no-line bifocals. At this point, to take off my glasses is to render myself semi-blind. I can still see vague shapes and blurry visions of things close but beyond about ten feet or so, everything looks like I’m staring at the world through a weird, fuzzy kaleidoscope.

There are now means – and excellent ones I might add – for correcting a person’s vision in ways unthinkable in recent history. A while back a friend of mine got laser eye surgery. He went from having vision that was worse than mine to having twenty-twenty vision in a few days. This now very common procedure allowed him to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a pilot in the military.

The idea of anyone doing anything to my eyes other than holding a few lenses in front of them and saying, better one or better two, better three or better four, terrifies me. For years, I made my living as an artist and my eyes, as much as my hands or skill with a computer, were part of my breadwinning formula. I can’t imagine doing anything, even if it might help in the long run, to chance losing or damaging my eyesight, even as bad as it is. So, I go to the optometrist, usually on a yearly basis, to have my eyes checked and glasses adjusted, but I would never dream of having surgery on my eyes.

The truth is, a lot of us wear glasses or contacts to be able to see the world clearly. We get up each day and either wipe off the smudges or pull the lenses out of their cases and literally put on our eyes to see properly. Without them, we would walk around bumping into furniture, driving off the road, and all manner of mayhem. We need to have corrective lenses of some kind of things can be hairy for us. Even if you have never worn glasses, you have probably had something get in your eye and found yourself rubbing your eyes to get it out. You may also have been to have your eyes checked and had the dreaded drops to dilate your pupils. At some point in your life, you have seen the world through blurry eyes, kind of like looking at one of those fuzzy looking impressionist paintings.

There is also a sense in which we have not only physical eyes but spiritual eyes as well. In both the Old and New Testaments, writers speak of people who are not understanding or refusing to understand as having eyes that do not see.[1] Whether we don’t want to see, or we just don’t get it, we too, have moments when the Holy Spirit speaks to us and we go, duh.

In this second chapter of Ephesians, the writer is talking about how we are reconciled, that is reconnected, to God. The point is that repentance is seeing God and ourselves clearly and responding by following after Jesus. This connects us together as part of the body of Christ. He starts by saying that there was a time when we were all led astray by what he calls the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.[2] Funny how that sort of thing doesn’t seem to change. If you look at the world around us, whether on the news or just watching the way people live, in many ways, people never really find a connection to God or if they do, they can’t seem to stay connected. The passage goes on to talk about how we followed the desires of our flesh or what I would say is just our own selfishness and how we are no different than anyone else.

[004.5] And then, something happened. Something stirred in us and we felt a desire to change, to see the world in the right way. The writer of Ephesians says, even when we’re dead, that is spiritually looking around through blurry eyes, God loved us and wanted to show us grace. In other words, God knew we couldn’t see straight on our own so he sent Jesus to help us understand the right way to view the world. Basically, we all are having spiritual laser eye surgery to see ourselves and God in the right way. In Jesus, we who have experienced the grace of God – that is heard the calling of God for us to change direction (repent) and have responded by turning toward the way of Jesus – can now begin to not only see but begin to lead others to see as well.

But sometimes, seeing straight is scary. If you have never been able to see clearly the spiritual dangers around you or even the spiritual wonders and suddenly, you have twenty-twenty vision, that might be a shock to the system. I’ve heard people say they made the mistake of cleaning their house with their glasses on. If you haven’t done it in a while, you might find dirt in places you didn’t know were dirty. We might find ourselves afraid of changing too much or giving too much of ourselves to God. We might think that being a follower of Jesus is okay, but we only want to see well enough to not trip over the big stuff. But this is part of learning to see as well. It is the act of grace, God working in us through the Holy Spirit to bring about life change, that allows us to see differently and as a result mature into being true Christians or as the word means literally, little Christs; small, anointed versions of Jesus who continue His work on earth.

But the writer goes on from there to tell us that we not only see for ourselves but each other. This is not a green light to pick out the brokenness in someone else’s life or spend our time looking for people to correct. It is an opportunity for us to be truly in community with one another by bearing one another’s burdens. For he is our peace; in his flesh, he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.[3] In this case, both groups refer to the Jewish and Gentile Christians that lived in the region where the letter was read. The idea is that in Jesus, in living the Way of Jesus as a way of life, we are all part of one group: Christians, those who follow the after the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And not only that but we who come together as a part of this new household of faith, those who can see the truth of God, we become the dwelling place of God, the replacement for the Jerusalem Temple destroyed in 68 CE. The writer of the epistle says,

So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him, the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.[4]

We who were once unable to see the spiritual world around us clearly are now the dwelling place of God when we live after the way of Jesus in grace. We also become seeing eyes for those who still have not responded to the grace that God offers and for those who have but are still struggling with the new vision they have.

The Point – Repentance is seeing God and ourselves clearly and responding by following after Jesus. This connects us together as part of the body of Christ.

 A Question – Am I seeing straight?

 Life Application – See God and ourselves straight through the life of Jesus. Live accordingly.

[1] Deuteronomy 29:4, Ezekiel 12:2, John 9, Romans 11:8

[2] Ephesians 2:2

[3] Ephesians 2:14

[4] Ephesians 2:19-22

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